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Debate Your Development

By Georgie Jeffreys on September 27, 2011 in News

For years debate has surrounded Maroubra Beach, and raged like a spectacular game of tug ‘o’ war. Discussions concerning how, if and when this quaintly static suburb would be brought to resemble the bright lights and trendy walks of its Bondi and Coogee counterparts has caused an eruption of healthy disagreement between locals, developers and everyone in between. This usually quiet and self-contained seaside village has been endlessly polarised by the hot topics of high-rise apartments, shop front face-lifts and adding some – probably much needed – infrastructure.

True to form, Randwick City Council is now set to add further fuel to the fire after recently releasing its plans to ‘put the heart back into Maroubra’, or depending on what side of the fence you sit, ripping it right out.

Encompassing the block set within the bounds of Fenton Avenue, McKeon Street, Mons Avenue and Marine Parade, the council’s proposed development plans offer promising additions such as a ‘sun-drenched public square’ and the restoration of a fresh ‘retail heart’. And to be honest, with imagery like that, it’s hard not to like the sound of it. The plans also proffer some 227 new residential apartments and 381 extra car parking spaces.

For those against the plans though, the problem seems not to be that development brings with it impending change, nor is it that it eludes to the potential diversification of Maroubra’s currently unique dynamic – yet these are all plausible concerns. Instead, the issue bothering most locals is that for all the scaffolding, renovating and general nuisance that any development brings, nothing will change at all.

Paul van Bellan, who has lived and worked in the area for the better part of the last decade, fears that while improving the appearance of shop-fronts may seem like an incentive for further business, an influx of people is not necessarily on the cards.

“Maroubra is a working class suburb and if you give everything a face lift, all that’s going to do is increase prices,” he said.

“Even if it does generate extra business, who knows if that will be enough to further profits after you account for rental hikes.”

And it can’t be ignored that McKeon Street does still boast a host of depressingly empty shop fronts, some built only two years ago on the bottom level of a new set of units, their dusty ‘for leased’ signs begging for some interest.

Arguably that interest is exactly what this proposed development will grant. Perhaps a fresh coat of paint, some major overhauls and a new sun-drenched sanctuary is exactly what this largely outdated suburb so desperately needs.

Randwick Mayor Murray Matson said the council has worked closely with the local community to retain the beachside character of the area while creating a vibrant and economically viable town centre.

“These planning controls will influence the shape of Maroubra for the next 20 years,” Mayor Matson said.

“I encourage all local residents interested in the area to view the Urban Design Study and have your say.”

So, whether it gets your goat or floats your boat let your opinion be known. You can view the Urban Design Study at www.randwick.nsw.gov.au under ‘Have My Say’ and forward all comments by email to general.manager@randwick.nsw.gov.au.

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