Bronte Community’s Cries Fall On Deaf EarsThe old adage ‘You can’t stop progress’ has rarely rung more true, but the Bronte community are outraged over the way this ‘progress’ is being forced upon them, despite their incessant pleas against the overdevelopment of the Bronte RSL site.
The Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) has recommended to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DoPI) that Winston Langley Burlington’s plan to alter the development controls to increase the floor space ratio from 1:1 to 2.1:1 and raise the height to 20 metres has “strategic merit”.
Planning Minister Brad Hazzard will now consider it, and if he approves the proposal it will go back once again to the community for consultation.
Save Bronte spokesperson Dr. Stephen Lightfoot is livid about the ruling.
“The Department keeps saying that the community will have their say. This is insulting to us; we’ve had our say. We’ve been significantly involved with the planning review and want a development that complies with the council controls,” he said.
“The PAC has ignored every stakeholder except the developer. Two unelected commissioners and one developer are going to set the rules for our neighbourhood. They are overruling our elected councillors; they are quashing the decisions made by our elected councillors after a comprehensive planning review process. This is not democracy!”
Waverley Mayor Sally Betts is also extremely disappointed with the decision. “Council believes that its comprehensive consultation process firmly established what the community wanted on that specific site,” she said.
“At the PAC hearing, Council had expressed its concern about the proposal going through another round of consultation, but if it has to happen Council will work very closely with residents to ensure we are able to present a strong case against this proposal.”
The new planning system issued by the DoPI in April last year claims to be “simpler, more certain and more transparent. It provides greater opportunities for the community to participate early in the process and enables them to set the vision for their areas upfront”, yet the community was not even allowed at the PAC meeting. When Dr. Lightfoot wrote to the PAC asking for a transcript of the meeting minutes, he was told there were no official minutes taken. The process has not been a transparent in any sense of the word.
The objections to the developer’s proposal are many and varied, however traffic remains the primary concern raised by the community and echoed by Council and the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
The DoPI, in its justification to review Council’s building controls, said “any future proposal should not result in adverse environmental impacts, particularly in relation to traffic and parking”, but a number of locals are not convinced.
Shannon Rooney is just one Clovelly Public School parent who refuses to accept the developer’s attempts to overturn the building controls.
“The intersections the developer wants to run highly frequent delivery trucks through are already remarkably dangerous,” she said.
“Parents often feel like they are taking their lives in their hands crossing the road or finding a parking space near Bronte Early Education Child Care. That intersection (of Chesterfield Parade, St Thomas Street and Trafalgar Street) is already horrendously dangerous, with too much traffic and not enough visibility.
“This is not hyperbole. If an oversized development were to go ahead against Council and State Government rulings, it would be a question of how many injured and dead children we would be looking at, and how often.”
The DoPI has contacted Council asking whether it wants to be the relevant planning authority to manage the exhibition process, but they are yet to make a decision.
“Council is considering this matter and will make a decision on whether it wants to manage the exhibition process or whether the Department of Planning should manage the process,” Cr Betts said.
The Beast made numerous attempts to contact WLB developer David Hynes for comment, without any response.