Charing Cross Redevelopment Raises Community Concerns
The Charing Cross community is divided over a controversial planning proposal seeking to revitalise a third of the historic strip. The main concerns relate to overdevelopment and the heritage of the area.
The proposal, unanimously endorsed by Waverley Council to go on exhibition, has been lodged by the owners of the Robin Hood Hotel, situated on the corner of Bronte and Carrington Roads, and includes a redevelopment of the Robin Hood bottleshop, the Stamatiko Flats at 223-227 Bronte Road and the Reece Plumbing building.
The bottleshop and adjoining sites, including the Stamatiko Flats, would be transformed into an active laneway and retail precinct with public spaces and a pedestrian network protected from the traffic of Carrington and Bronte Roads. The facade of 223-227 Bronte Road would be retained, with over 22 per cent of the site to be dedicated as open space.
The development would include buildings up to 13.5 metres high – a source of opposition since the current height limit for the Charing Cross Conservation Area is 9 metres. This height increase would add one storey to the existing height.
Initially, the owners of the Robin Hood Hotel lodged proposals with heights of up to 24 metres, and then 18 metres, both of which were refused by the Eastern Suburbs Planning Panel and Waverley Council.
Robin Hood Hotel Managing Director Daniel Whitten told The Beast that after five years of working on the proposal he was excited about what the current plans could do for the area.
“We want to activate beautiful spaces at ground level for the community to use, but that means building up to make the development viable. I really believe the development could be the catalyst to revitalise the whole Charing Cross precinct,” he said.
However, some Charing Cross business owners and locals have voiced opposition under the group Charing Cross Village Precinct, starting a Change.org petition calling on Waverley Council to retain the current Local Environment Plan and Development Control Plans for Charing Cross.
Julie McAlpin, Convenor of the Charing Cross Precinct, said that the area has historical significance as a low-rise village and is concerned that spot re-zoning of building heights will have a knock-on effect along the strip, destroying the historical character of the area.
“Most people we’ve spoken to have seen the overdevelopment at Bondi Junction and don’t want it to encroach down Bronte Road,” Ms McAlpin explained.
Of particular significance are the Stamatiko Flats, which Waverley Council has considered for individual heritage listing in the past. They were purchased by the Whitten family in 2015 and remain empty. Some stakeholders fear they will require demolition due to neglect.
However, the heritage fronting at 223-227 Bronte Road would be retained under the planning proposal.
Waverley Council announced its plans for revitalising the Charing Cross streetscape in 2021, pointing to the potential for rejuvenation of the area.
Ms McAlpin explained that the precinct recognises the untapped potential of Charing Cross but believes it can be rejuvenated within the current controls.
“The area needs a lot of tender love and care, but the current planning controls are fit for purpose and would allow us to leverage the heritage and unique character of the area to attract shoppers, residents and businesses,” Ms McAlpin said.
It remains to be seen whether the proposal can balance investment in the local economy with preservation of the area’s heritage significance.
You can visit the developer’s website at charingsquare.com.au.
To share your thoughts, visit haveyoursay.waverley.nsw.gov.au. Submissions close on February 6.