Supermarket Chains Sink Their Claws Into BondiDespite staunch objection from thousands of Bondi locals, Waverley Council has approved a DA that will allow the developers of the Swiss Grand Hotel to house one of the largest supermarket giants (either a Woolworths or Coles) within their complex.
Initially the developers were vying for a 24-hour supermarket and associated liquor store (to add to the 190-plus licensed premises in the Waverley already). Thankfully Council had enough sense to knock back the liquor store entirely, and have reduced the supermarket hours to 6am–1am, 7 days a week. But this decision has done little to calm the angry torrent of objectors who have campaigned tirelessly to stop this DA from progressing.
Spearheading the crusade against the proposed development is Rescue Bondi (in collaboration with Bondi Beach Precinct), who have baulked at Council’s decision to allow a mega-mart into their beachside suburb. However, Council seems satisfied they’ve listened and responded adequately to residents’ apprehensions.
“Council has taken the concerns from the community on board… Bondi Beach is a significant activity centre… and the proposed supermarket will be an asset for both visitors and residents,” Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said.
Council also decided to implement a trolley lock system and a traffic-calming proposal to outline how traffic will be managed along Beach Road between Campbell Parade and Gould Street.
These outcomes came a day after a Development Control Committee (DCC) meeting, attended by around 100 residents and small business owners who wanted the DA to be quashed entirely. Bondi Beach Precinct convenor Lenore Kulakauskas is deeply frustrated with Waverley Council and believes they have not listened to residents at all.
“Local community members donated their time and energy to support this campaign in incredible ways, and have asked for outright objection of this DA with almost 2,500 objections presented to Council,” Kulakauskas said.
Traffic gridlock and the obvious lack of parking around Bondi Beach are major issues that seem to have been overlooked. Rescue Bondi co-founder Gabi Tobias told The Beast that Council did not present an up-to-date independent traffic report at the DCC meeting, and the problem was not discussed thoroughly on the night.
“The traffic report was outdated. It was underpinned by two previous traffic reports from 2008, and that only referred to retail space. There was no supermarket in existence when it was published, and no one mentioned how these delivery trucks would get in and out of Bondi,” Tobias said.
An Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel declared that a mega-mart in Bondi would be “a social benefit rather than the converse as asserted by the objectors” but a number of statistics seem to show otherwise.
According to the Council of Small Business Organisations, Australia, for every 10 jobs created by Woolworths, 17 jobs are lost in the existing local business community, while 90% of money generated from local businesses stays within the community compared to 20% from large retail operators.
Given their purchasing power, a large supermarket conglomerate will undoubtedly derail a number of small businesses in Bondi and many local small business owners are understandably concerned.
Waverley Councillor John Wakefield was among those echoing these concerns after the DCC meeting.
“The heavy-handed arrogance of Councillor Betts and her colleagues in ignoring thousands of residents’ concerns about this supermarket was evident on the night, and they are more than happy to see a supermarket with longer trading hours than the one in Kings Cross appear at Bondi Beach,” Councillor John Wakefield said.
“It will drain the economic life out of these (small) businesses and place it (Bondi) in the hands of one of the dominant supermarket chains in the country,” he said.