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Car Park Consultation Process Lambasted

By Marcus Braid on January 6, 2015 in

Photo: George Samios

Photo: George Samios

The public consultation process for the proposed underground car park at Bondi Beach has been criticised for distorting public feedback.

The draft Bondi Plan of Management proposes a two to three-storey underground car park including a green roof, which would cost at least $20 million to build.

The car park has proven particularly divisive, with Labor councillors Paula Masselos and Ingrid Strewe taking aim at the survey format used in the consultation, which they say confuses the underground car park with green space.

“My understanding was the way that people were being quizzed about the car park was in the context of open space,” Cr Masselos said. “Well, of course people are going to tick that. I don’t think the issues were appropriately separated out, because they’re two very different things.

“When we’re looking at expending such a large amount of money, I would think it was prudent to actually have a separate questionnaire on the car park itself and do a proper consultation, and actually separate it out.”

Cr Masselos said there was a flawed process of consultation, noting that the vast majority of letters submitted were against the proposed car park, and that it’s time for Council to listen to the community.

“At the end of the day, Council is there to provide services to the community and if we don’t want a car park, why are we going ahead with even thinking about it?” she said. “There are other ways we can sort out the parking issues down there.”

Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said residents had in fact asked for the underground car park to be considered.

“The only reason that it is on the agenda at all is that residents asked for it as part of the initial survey,” she said.

“We’ve got some money in the 2015/16 budget just to investigate it. No decision has been made at all. First of all we’ve got to work out if it’s at all possible, then we would work out where is the best place (for it) and how (to construct it). If we decide to progress, we would go back to the community.”

Cr Betts also noted that “every comment” sent in about the Plan of Management was “looked at”.

“There were definitely some people who were against the car park, but there were some people who still wanted it,” she said.

“It will be a very technical investigation to work out the feasibility of it. We’re talking about a very long project if we decide to go ahead with it.”

Cr Betts said she understood reservations locals have about the car park, and that is why Council has allocated $500,000 to investigate it in the 2015/16 budget.

“If they say you can have the car park, then we can start looking at what is the best place for it and how you would enter and exit it,” she said.

“I know all of the issues that the community are concerned about. I know that people are concerned about having to walk from behind the Pavilion to the beach and they feel it’s a long way, and they like to sit there and watch the waves.”

A Facebook group named ‘No Underground Car Park for Bondi Beach’ has now attracted over 900 likes. A group post on November 20 shared Murray Cox’s comments about the November 18 Council meeting.

“Deep in the minutes of the Council meeting of 18 November there were 100 or so submissions,” the post read. “I counted 85 opposed and 13 supporting the car park.”

Another group post on December 3 noted there will be “138 fewer spots to park” under the Council proposal.

Cr Masselos said the entire idea for a car park was ill informed.

“It’s something the community doesn’t want and they have been very clear about that, and it’s a pity we haven’t been able to separate the car park from everything else they have been looking at in terms of the Bondi Plan of Management,” she said.

“For a start, the underground car park is a long way from the beach for a lot of people. If you have surf boards or skis or anything like that, there’s no way to get those up from an underground car park to the beach, because they’re quite large and they’re tall, so I can’t really see how that’s going to work.”