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Bronte RSL Redevelopment: To Farm Or Not To Farm?

By Sarah Healey on October 30, 2012 in News

They say a change is as good as a holiday, but that all depends on the nature of the change (and possibly the destination of the holiday). If you ask most Bronte locals, they’ll tell you that the proposed redevelopment of the Bronte RSL site will inevitably morph their quiet village environment into a smaller version of Bondi Junction. The proposal by developers Winston Langley includes 28 apartments, a car park, room for a new RSL and ‘retail space’, which Harris Farm Markets are apparently waiting in the wings to nab.

Some residents are justifiably concerned that having a Harris Farm move onto their turf will create a traffic congestion nightmare along Macpherson Street and down Chesterfield Lane (where deliveries are likely to take place), prove a potential hazard to children from Clovelly Public School and Bronte Childcare Centre as trucks juggernaut past, and prevent opportunities for small businesses to flourish. There’s also the argument that with an established Harris Farm up the road at Bondi Junction, a mere five minutes drive from Bronte, is there really a need for another one?

These community anxieties are being passionately posted on the Facebook page ‘NO Harris Farm in Bronte’, with its creator Keri Spooner determined to garner as much awareness about the project as possible.

“This is a matter of serious concern to local residents and to all those people who would hope to protect the character of our suburban localities. The Bronte shopping centre is quickly and sadly losing its distinctive character. It will mean the end for the small family businesses in the area,” Spooner told The Beast.

Winston Langley’s executive director David Hynes confirmed that the Harris family is very interested in opening up at the Bronte location and that he had been party to long-term discussions with them.

“In my view there are 30,000 people living in Bronte and the surrounding areas. It’s the third most densely populated part of Sydney. Every single person in that area has to leave Bronte to do their shopping,” David said.

“It’s not going to be this huge destination for everybody that lives in the Eastern Suburbs – it’s going to be for the Bronte/Clovelly community. I understand there are people that have concerns, but I have also spoken to others who think it’s a fantastic proposal. We are keen to present our proposal to the community so they can look at it objectively.”

Former president of the Bronte RSL Duncan Horscroft agrees there needs to be a thorough investigation of the proposal to answer people’s concerns, but is not entirely against the changes.

“Harris Farm Markets would be beneficial because most of the people around the Bronte area would use it. It’s not so much the issue of having the fruit market there, it’s the issue of supplying the fruit market,” Horscroft said.

According to a Waverley Council spokesperson, “A DA has not been submitted to Council for the Bronte RSL site, but the developer has advised Council of their desire to redevelop the site, and is running an information session on their proposal on Thursday, November 1 at Bronte RSL between 6:30pm and 8:30pm.”

Mayor Sally Betts urged the community to wait until Site-Specific Controls are established before making a judgement and raising their concerns.

“As soon as we start the consultation of the controls we will make sure the community is involved in the process, and that everyone has a chance to have their say. Then when a DA comes in it will be addressed against that,” she said.

Despite contacting Harris Farm numerous times, they declined to respond via their Facebook page or their media advisor. For further information on the proposal you can contact David Hynes on 9817 0244, email or visit