A Blocked Future
The placement of blocks along Campbell Parade in December, and extending to North Bondi in mid-January, are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Waverley Council has said it is responding to the Federal Government’s Australia’s Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism guidelines and sought specialist risk advice to ensure the beach precinct is protected.
“The works undertaken have been based on specialist risk advice sought by Council from public security experts and is not in response to any specific threat,” a Waverley Council spokesperson explained to The Beast.
Council said the placement of blocks was directed by staff based on the specialist advice. The concrete blocks, placed approximately one metre apart along significant stretches of the southern end of Campbell Parade and along the northern end of the promenade, are designed to prevent hostile vehicles entering large crowds of people. As we know all too well, the golden sands of Bondi can be home for up to 50,000 beachgoers on a busy day.
But many locals are questioning whether the placement of the blocks is a little extreme and unedifying. For example, consider the placement of blocks along Ramsgate Avenue near the Rathouse. Here, one would have suspected the cars parked in the dedicated parking spots are natural barriers to hostile vehicles and do not require concrete blocks in front of them. The placement of these blocks suggests the specialist advice is concluding a terrorist looking to drive their hostile vehicle onto the promenade on a busy summer’s day would firstly wait patiently in the traffic snarl approaching the Rathouse roundabout, and then wait even longer for a car park to become available prior to driving onto the promenade and attempting to skittle everyone. Either that or they would get a park early in the day and wait for their moment, only to get the attention of the brown bombers.
The new security strategy seems to usurp Waverley Council’s planning document, People, Movement and Places: where we go and how we get there, which planned to make our streetscapes more inviting. Major improvements for Bondi Beach aimed to improve the streetscape along Campbell Parade to provide better pedestrian access and amenity.
This includes the major works planned for Notts Avenue, where 98.3 per cent of local respondents are in support of creating a shared zone for the avenue, providing an important pedestrian link between the promenade and the coastal walk. One wonders how a shared zone can be created at one end of the beach, where the residents support the notion of cars and pedestrians mixing freely, yet the pedestrian-only promenade needs hostile vehicle blockers.
Substantial effort, architectural design and investment has gone into making Bondi beautiful and welcoming, with new street furniture, park benches and upgrades along Campbell Parade a welcome sight.
The hostile vehicle blocks have been placed all around this beautiful street furniture as if to render their beauty in design worthless. Waverley Council informed The Beast it was aware of the visual impact of the blocks and will be looking at ways of improving their aesthetics. Council also said it would now embark on a longer-term solution of landscaping and street furniture that enhances both amenity and security.
“Once an ongoing solution is arrived at the blocks will be removed,” Council’s spokesperson said.