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Public Opinion Forces Council to Reconsider Surf Club Proposal

By Duncan Horscroft on July 24, 2020 in News

Bronte juniors at the first NSW Juvenile State Championships in 1966. Photo: Pria Serakah

The proposed development of the Bronte Surf Club has divided the local community and it’s time everyone sat down, took a deep breath, and looked at the big picture.
When the plan went up for public opinion in June, a lot of people were aghast at the enormity of the proposal, which was only one of four concept designs and nothing had been set in concrete, so to speak.
Bronte Surf Club’s approach to this whole issue has been criticised. The Project Control Group, comprised of council officers and surf club representatives, developed four options, with Council endorsing one for development to concept level for consultation.
Due to the enormity of the community reaction, Council has decided to review the situation and is looking to provide a new plan which would be more in tune with the adjoining parkland and not privatise any public space.
The local Bronte Boardriders Club has been very vocal in its objection to the loss of public space, especially the removal of the existing Dave Brown Place (The Cubes), which the Boardriders use as their regular meeting place.
Unfortunately, this area has become run down, so why hasn’t the council done anything to tidy it up and repair the crumbling brickwork and seating that is used regularly by locals?
Moving that area into the adjoining parkland and removing two public sheds at the back of the existing amenities seems to be a ridiculous idea, as public parkland should take precedence over buildings.
Some of the local protesters have argued that the surf club is not a viable facility and that local surfers and lifeguards play a bigger role in rescues than volunteer lifesavers.
Bronte Surf Club is steeped in history, claiming to be the “world’s first surf club”, and they have provided a wealth of life-saving training to multitudes of people including nippers, where many professional lifeguards did their initial training.
This writer has been a patrolling member of the surf club for many years and is more than grateful for the training provided by the club, which has been vital in assisting people not only on the beach but in general day-to-day life.
Unfortunately, there has been a hate campaign aimed at the overall surf club and this is totally unnecessary as most of the planning has come from the surf club’s board of directors, not club members.
It’s time for all the members of the surf club, and the various community groups who use the beach, to loudly voice their opinion and urge council to come up with a plan to appease both members and the community alike.
It’s also time for the surf club to start listening to the concerns of the broader community and respect everyone’s opinion. And it’s also time for Waverley Council to exert its authority as a caretaker of the land and sensibly apply a plan which suits everyone.
In late June, Waverley Council endorsed a consultation report that, among thirteen new design principles, “agreed to look at the reduction of the overall footprint of the building(s), consider relocation of the public amenities and Council facilities to within existing building curtilage, consider locating Dave Brown Place within existing curtilage (and) minimise net loss of public open space and public green space.” Hopefully, common sense will prevail and we can all enjoy the new club and amenities, albeit in a much lesser form than is being proposed.

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