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Woolies Dig Heels In Over Liquor Store

By Sarah Healey on December 4, 2014 in News

Photo: Zach Galifianakis

Photo: Zach Galifianakis

Just when the residents of Bondi had breathed a huge sigh of relief at Waverley Council’s blatant rejection of plans for a liquor store to be injected into the Swiss Grand development last year, Woolworths have sneakily opened the back door. They have applied to move a dormant liquor licence from Dover Heights and place it adjacent to the supermarket, trading under the name BWS (Beer Wine Spirits).

Woolworths have used NSW legislation, which overrides local planning controls, to obtain a Complying Development Certificate. However, they will still require a liquor licence from the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR). Council will be taking a stand against this application being approved.

“[We] have the opportunity to make submissions to the OLGR… and this will include the reasons why the store was rejected in 2013,” a Council spokesperson said.

The multitude of evidence accumulated by various studies regarding the adverse effects of alcohol is undeniable. According to a NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance paper titled ‘Inquiry Into Measures to Reduce Alcohol and Drug-related Violence’ from August 2014, “Research has consistently found an association between alcohol outlet density (i.e. the number of active liquor licences in an area) and negative alcohol-related outcomes such as assaults, adolescent drinking, domestic violence, drink driving, homicide, suicide, chronic alcohol-attributable diseases and child maltreatment.”

These findings may come across as hyperbolic, but the fact still remains that there are well over 190 licensed premises in the Waverley area already, and many residents are concerned that the community is at a tipping point that could easily spiral out of control when it comes to alcohol.

Bondi Beach Precinct convenor Lenore Kulakauskas believes that the recent surge in liquor licences in Bondi has added fuel to the proverbial fire.

“We’re keeping a lid on alcohol-related problems in our community, but only just. We’ve got to keep Bondi safe. This can all spiral out of control really quickly. There’s so much alcohol down here already. Let’s face it, we’re washing in it,” Ms Kulakauskas said.

“The major concern is that it’s a cheap liquor outlet, which means you’re going to get a whole range of people coming down to the beach to show off and get drunk. When you’ve got a cheap liquor store just opposite the alcohol-free zones at the park and beach, you simply can’t police these areas around the clock, and it becomes dangerous.”

The avenue of decision-making by Woolworths does not take into consideration any subjective matters raised previously by Council representatives or the police, and if the application goes ahead, the impact on the community will be vast and varied.

One local business owner is deeply angered by this move, and insists that under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour are only two of the many evils to rise out of this.

“There will be a serious increase in parking pressure and a dramatic increase in truck movements, with the loading dock being within 50 metres of the primary school,” she said.

“Questions still surround the size and access of the loading dock to accommodate the large Woolworths trucks, as this could cause the queuing of delivery vehicles in Beach Road,” she said.

Neighbours of the development will have to get used to the surge in noise pollution as well.

“Amenity of the area [will be affected] particularly in relation to residents in Beach Road and Glenayr Avenue with regard to early morning and late evening deliveries and associated engine noises,” she said.

The community has the opportunity to object by contacting Back Schwartz Vaughan Lawyers, which has sent out the notice of intention. It then becomes their responsibility to respond to all received feedback in their Community Impact Statement, which will accompany their licence application to the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.

Concerned community members can lodge their objections to Tony Schwartz by emailing tschwartz@bsv.com.au, or they can visit the campaign link at https://rescuebondi.good.do/keep-bondi-safe-stop-woolworths-again-keep-bondi-safe/ or the Facebook page www.facebook.com/keepbondisafe.

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