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Community vs Convenience? Locals Differ Over Woolies Plan

By Nicola Travers-Robinson on March 27, 2020 in News

Small business owners need our support. Photo by James Hutton.Bronte locals will soon have another chance to voice their opinions on the proposed Macpherson Street Woolworths Metro. The development application was deferred pending an economic and social report from Woolworths after a high volume of community submissions opposing the change in December last year. The report was submitted to Council in late February and was released for community comment in March.
The application proposing to convert three retail spaces into a large Woolworths Metro is the latest in a long string of controversial proposals for the former RSL site.
Local community group Save Bronte will be encouraging community response to oppose the Woolworths Metro.
Stephen Lightfoot, a spokesman for Save Bronte, said they will be following the matter closely.
“We’ll be having a look at their report and we’ll be analysing it ourselves and seeing if we agree with what they say, and we will make submissions when they’re called for,” Mr Lightfoot told The Beast.
Major concerns with the proposed development include the impact on pedestrians, local businesses and roads. The current Plan of Management proposes that trucks up to eleven metres long drive past Bronte Beach, an area that has large volumes of pedestrian traffic. These trucks will be driving down the narrow and already congested Bronte Road at least twice a day.
Another valid concern is parking, which is already a significant issue for the Bronte community.
However, some business owners feel it is inevitable that big businesses will eventually move into the area, and some members of the local community are positive about the convenience a Woolworths will bring.
Jon, a teacher at a local school, says a Woolworths Metro would be a great asset for their staff team.
“It would be a great resource to get a healthy lunch and snacks that are not too expensive locally,” he told The Beast. “At the moment I’m not using any of the local shops.”
Mr Lightfoot says that it has become a debate about the level of freedom developers should have in community areas.
“It was a principle of democracy,” he said. “The community had had a say, the council had had a say and even the Department of Planning had looked at the site and had a say. Then a developer came along and wanted to change all that, and we said, ‘You can’t do that. It’s not just, it’s not fair, it’s not democracy.’”
This latest community effort marks eight years of Save Bronte fighting for appropriate development of the former RSL site, with many locals and business owners also fighting to keep small business a viable option in Bronte.
Mahmood Assad, owner of the local Friendly Store, believes a Woolworths Metro will bring a real threat to businesses in the area.
“I am a small fish and they are a big shark. I don’t want to compete with that,” Mr Assad said of the development.
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