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Bronte Community’s Cries Fall On Deaf Ears

By Sarah Healey on March 4, 2014 in News

Picture: Save Bronte

Picture: Save Bronte

The 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.


  1. Great article by Sarah Healey. Save Bronte is in favour of development at the Bronte RSL site. We want to see the RSL present a DA to Waverley Council that complies with the council drafted and implemented planning controls. These controls were developed in consolation with the community and planning experts. Our community has been involved in strategic planning at the site since 2012. We have helped the council set the broad rules and vision for development in our local area. Now the state government has overturned and ignored all that work. Minister Hazzard has broken his promises to the people of NSW. He promised to involve communities early in the planning process and to give them the right to determine the rules and vision for development in their local area. To keep this promise he must stop the developer’s requested planning control changes and sign into law Waverley Council’s draft planning controls immediately.

    Posted by: save bronte | March 5, 2014, 2:21 PM |

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  2. How bad is it, that after 18mths of the communities exhaustive and extensive strategic planning process against the over development of the RSL, this is still going on? How outrageous that Hazzard, if he approves this development it will , What? Go back to the community for more consultation? How is it that 2 unelected commissioners and 1 developer can decide what happens in our neighbourhood? How is this a democratic society when the people who live here have no say? and What has happened to Hazzards promises to listen to the community? There is no merit in this development and no merit in the PAC who seems to think it’s fine to overlook everyones view except its own. It is so very blatently wrong. The community are not happy and going by the hundreds of residents who turned up at the Save Bronte rally last Wednesday evening, they want answers

    Posted by: Carrie Furneaux | March 5, 2014, 8:31 PM |

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  3. Bronte RSL is killing its community and the Planning Minister is providing the ammunition!
    There is no conundrum! It is a clear cut case. The community have made it very loud and clear that this current development will set a precedence for the future buildings in Bronte and will become yet another overdeveloped suburb.
    Be warned! This is not just about this development it is about the future of Bronte from now on.
    Yes the RSL site needs to be developed!That is not the issue (yes many of you are misinformed)
    The issue is that the RSL site development needs to be compliant to zoning requirements.
    We all have to comply to these laws so why is it these Developers disregard these rules and regulations.
    All everyone need to do is email Mr Brad Hazzard via( this assures Mr Hazzard is acountable and doesnt hit delete!) MP Notley-Smith at coogee@parliment.nsw. gov and remind Mr Hazzard he needs to adhere to his promise of listening to the community and that he alone has the power to reject this current development.
    Then we go back to the Council reccomendations which included community consultation and hey presto we have a fabulous new developed RSL site! Who loses?

    Posted by: Rebecca | March 5, 2014, 9:36 PM |

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  4. Quote from the NSW Dept of Planning and infrastructure’s website about their new planning laws.
    “This will return more power to communities who will set the ground rules and vision for future developments in their local area”
    There must be some small print somewhere that reads ” But only if the developer agrees”
    If these greedy self interested developers get their way the whole of the shopping strip will be zoned for 6 stories, Bronte is a great place to live, lets keep it that way!

    Posted by: Bruce Moller | March 6, 2014, 12:51 PM |

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  5. With a daughter currently serving with the ADF (like her grandparents and great grandparents) I am disgusted that this RSL development boils down to three things:
    1. Money and Greed
    2. Ignorance
    3. Total disrespect for the defence force to whom this organisation was formed.
    Shame on the RSL for selling to developers and for totally ignoring the council and the community..

    Posted by: C. Furneaux | March 6, 2014, 3:51 PM |

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  6. We, the community of Bronte, want APPROPRIATE development at the Bronte RSL site. Mr Hazzard needs to stand by his word to the people of NSW. The community have spoken loud and clear; We do not want overdevelopment in our suburb. If the WLB monolith goes ahead, this will set an ugly prescedent for Bronte and every other suburb in NSW. Listen to the people and our elected councellers, Mr Hazzard!

    Posted by: Donna | March 6, 2014, 4:53 PM |

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  7. PS excellent news story by Sarah Healey of the beast

    Posted by: Donna | March 6, 2014, 4:59 PM |

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  8. This issue is bigger than Bronte. This is about democracy and the ability of residents to control what happens in their own suburbs. What has happened here is that Minister Hazzard has broken his promises to the people of NSW. He encouraged communities to get involved in setting the broad rules for development in their local area and promised they would be able to set those rules. The Bronte community took him at his word. We engaged with Waverley Council in their strategic review of planning controls in Bronte and accepted compromise with them in good faith. Now, after the developer didn’t like the outcome of that due and proper process, we end up with the unelected Dept of Planning throwing out the results of that process and making the Council run exactly the same process again. Presumably they want a different outcome which will be at odds with the community and council vision for Bronte. It is a farce and Minister Hazzard has broken his promises and made a mockery of the planning system. Let’s face it, as it stands, the Minister and the Department don’t want the community involved in planning early in the process or late in the process. They don’t want us involved at all. It is not democracy and it is just not right.

    Posted by: stephen lightfoot | March 6, 2014, 6:15 PM |

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  9. This development does not even comply with guidelines to be reviewed by PAC- PAC is for major developments.
    How can a major development happen in a neighbourhood zoned area?? Where is the merit in that.
    WE can all stop this if we put the pressure on Mr Hazzard and send an email.
    Yes send it via Bruce Notely- Smith MP as I do feel Hazzard deletes- I have yet to hear from him! SO lets join forces and email and keep Hazzard accountable!

    Posted by: R.Saunders | March 6, 2014, 9:37 PM |

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  10. The community has spoken and spoken and written and signed and petitioned and rallied…They are clearly tryig to exhaust communities into submission.
    How much more is required until Mr Hazzard hears or sees the community outrage and fixes his wrongful ways??
    This is not just about Bronte it is about the all the developments to come to anyone suburb.
    Mr Hazzard clearly committed to support communities in his promises and needs to be made accountable.
    It is devestating to think that not a single thing from the community and council consultation was considered.
    I am yet to figure out how the system is works and is transparent- After 2 independant rejections you continue and hey BINGO it gets accepted with a merit accolade and bigger than your original plan.
    What ever happened to No means No?

    Posted by: Jane Reeves | March 7, 2014, 1:42 PM |

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  11. Great article that very clearly reflects the community sentiment.
    As commented earlier by Stephen Lightfoot, this issue is much bigger than just the Bronte RSL site and much bigger than Bronte. If WLB’s proposed changes to the rules are approved, then both sides of Macpherson St becomes a target for redevelopment of a similar size to that previously proposed for the RSL site. Suddenly a neighbourhood centre become a neighbourhood wind tunnel and ghetto. It’s time that this government and Minister Hazzard in particular were held accountable for the commitments that were given to the NSW electorate. The community doesn’t want this kind of change to it’s development limits. Listen up Minister Hazzard, and do what you said you’d do – give the community what it wants.

    Posted by: Simon Lewis | March 10, 2014, 11:31 AM |

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  12. It wasn’t so long ago that the Save Bronte people were totally against the building of anything in Bronte. They don’t speak for all members of the community. I am tired of paying a fortune for a loaf of bread in Bronte. It is the only area with no bank or shopping centre. Everything costs a fortune there. So I and many others go elsewhere and give vote money to Coogee, Randwick, Bondi etc.
    I understand the concern about the trucks. But is this any worse than these (probably) same mothers with their massive 4wd buses who I often see texting while they drive. I have seen them, truly. Look what they are teaching their kids! They park out the back of Clovelly school in a no stopping area and the kids who walk home have to walk between cars that should not be there. Yet they talk about the danger of trucks coming into the area!
    Bronte needs better priced goods. A Harris Farm would be a start. Some of is have lived in Bronte for years and can’t afford the yuppie prices.

    Posted by: Lyn Winte | March 10, 2014, 12:08 PM |

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  13. It’s appalling over-development of a site whose already excessive bulk was approved by COuncil because it served a supportive community function.

    Exactly the same happened at Bondi with the Diggers Club (now the grossly over-sized and disgracefully-named Cadigal apartment block), and the Toga/Adina/Boheme development in Hall Street, formerly the Jewish community’s Hakoah Club. Waverley Council approved a large residential development on the basis of the club agreeing that it guaranteed the club’s long-term future on the site, but the club took the money and ran, leaving their meebers in the lurch and the local community to deal with the massive fallout from this tourist-based hotel operation in the centre of the residentially-zoned Hall Street Village! A disgrace to the community that promised to something and then did the opposite.

    Posted by: peter | March 11, 2014, 12:47 PM |

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