The Beast’s Monthly Mailbag
Current Development Applications
I read last month’s letter from Simon Furness, Uniting’s Director of Property & Housing (Opening Up the Heritage of the Waverley War Memorial Hospital, Letters, The Beast, November 2021) with anger and despair.
How interesting that he decided not to mention the 50 or so elderly and frail-aged people who are existing residents on the site, and who are facing eviction in order to facilitate the arrival of a much larger number of people who can pay more than we could.
What Uniting is apparently choosing not to tell you is that there are no vacancies elsewhere, and that we cannot come back here because we can’t pay more, even if we innocently bought in here in the first place.
Uniting’s “vision” is one which talks about “ageing in place” (see the Planning Proposal) but won’t allow us to do it. Naturally, we wouldn’t be mentioned: it would spoil the “spin”.
An Invisible, Nameless and Disregarded Resident of the WMH Site
Does Uniting Care?
Simon Furness (Opening Up the Heritage of the Waverley War Memorial Hospital, The Beast, November 2021) makes various assertions that are contradicted by the master plan Uniting has for the site.
You don’t “honour and enhance” the heritage listed grounds by building a seven-storey building on them and removing century-old majestic trees. This will barricade the ecological corridor from Waverley Oval to Queens and Centennial Parks transited by 170 bird species.
Seven of the eight new buildings are so-called independent living units for the over 55s. Are these any different to a typical Eastern Suburbs apartment development? Only one new building involves aged care and other services.
The reason why the site is being disfigured is the intensity of the apartment development. Maybe a few less apartment buildings and, presto, no need to defile the heritage and ruin the site!
Many will have seen the A Current Affair segment on October 29 that detailed the plight of aged and frail residents who have received ‘find somewhere else to live’ notices. Does this accord with the benevolence of the Vickery family who gifted the site originally?
More than 900 people have joined the petition against this development so far. Add to our voice by signing if you’ve not already done so at www.tinyurl.com/3m5ymee6.
Friends of War Memorial Hospital
Coogee Village Skyline
Dear Editor – I’m hoping the Coogee Bay Hotel high-rise doesn’t proceed as is. It would be a shame to lose the village feeling.
Community Objects to the Proposed Development of Coogee Bay Hotel
Dear Editor – As a member of Randwick Heritage Action Group (RHAG), I would like to express our concern at the rampant overdevelopment in Randwick and Coogee, once renowned as a beautiful beachside village. This reputation (especially after the recent ravaging of the iconic and historic Coogee Surf Club) is rapidly disappearing.
Coogee is once again in danger of losing yet another iconic heritage precinct. As you all well know, the community has fought long and hard to preserve our heritage, and we keep fighting as developer privilege escalates. Vaucluse just lost an historic 1920s mansion due to developer pressure. No amount of development and money can replace our history, our culture and heritage and our light.
We are not alone in our fight to preserve our heritage. Recently, Vaucluse residents have been up in arms and are demanding that their council compile a master list of the suburb’s heritage homes – something that has come a little too late for them and something that we have been struggling to compile here at Randwick.
“We need to be proactive, rather than reactive once these properties go on the market or are subject to a DA,” stated Woollahra Councillor Morano on August 7, 2021.
The community has lodged multiple objections to this DA and requested that Randwick City Council acknowledge the right of the community to preserve not only our heritage but our streetscape, views and light. This six-storey development contravenes the 12-metre height policy. The resultant blocking of views, shading and lack of coherent streetscape aesthetic will result in demoralising our community and compromise lifestyle. The only people who will benefit will be the wealthy investors who will enjoy the views at the expense of our village atmosphere.
We are deeply concerned about the surrounding bulk and scale of this development and the potential for loss of amenity impacting surrounding properties as a result of any non-compliance.
Also, the beautiful Art Deco block at 15A Vicar Street is a heritage item and must be maintained. This three-storey building, in its facade and detail, is a wonderful example of Inter War architecture.
The rate of development now is out of control, and we are in danger of becoming another concrete jungle by the beach. Coogee Bay Road, Vicar Street and Arden Street form a rectangular precinct that is truly iconic and is therefore instantly recognisable by tourists from all over the world. It forms an integral part of our famed village atmosphere. This development proposal will only benefit the developers and severely compromise our famed village and heritage atmosphere. We have constantly asked that Randwick councillors and the associated planning committees put the community’s needs first before it is too late. Thanks kindly for your consideration,
Dear Editor – Seriously? A 23-24 metre CBH development proposal?! If the existing 12 metre limit for this area is abandoned, the beautiful and historic Coogee Valley, climbing to the Randwick Ridge, becomes a high-rise plain.
Please, Mr Perrottet, do not let this happen.
The Enemy Within
Dear Beast – Forgive me Beast for I have sinned! I was one of those holding the firm belief that the owner of the Coogee Bay Hotel was an outsider – someone from Vaucluse, Point Piper or, worse still, The Shire.
Surely you can see this as a perfectly reasonable mistake; an assumption I formed upon reading just what his development proposal involved. I mean, someone from the Coogee community surely wouldn’t propose a development that will ruin the views and free air space of neighbouring properties? They wouldn’t seek the support of established small businesses while developing their own supermarket and “eat street” outlets… especially as those same existing businesses are struggling to emerge from some 18 months of COVID restrictions. And ‘one of our own’ couldn’t possibly seek to replace the breezy gateway to our beach promenade with a six-storey mimicry of Gold Coast luxury, served by even more vehicular traffic.
But I stand corrected. As your November edition pointed out, this development proposal came from “a local”, a member of the Coogee family. Hey Beast, have you ever seen that ‘60s movie, The Bad Seed?
Coogee Bay Hotel Redevelopment
Dear James – I feel obliged to register my strong objection to the Coogee Bay Hotel redevelopment. Recent issues of The Beast have contained letters from locals outlining the compelling reasons for this development to not proceed in its current form so I will not repeat them but rather wholeheartedly endorse them.
It appears to me that this entire saga is a microcosm of what is occurring more broadly in our society – the belief that it is acceptable to ‘get ahead’ at the expense of your fellow man, no matter the impact or cost.
This project appears to exemplify this concept – another example of insatiable developers pushing the limits to maximise their profit at the expense of locals. How much wealth do these people need? When is enough, enough?
Coogee is a charming, relaxed location open to all comers no matter their circumstances. We need to keep Coogee a village. Please visit www.keepcoogeeavillage.com.
COVID-19 in The East
Dear James – Not sure what Mullumbimby has to do with your service to the local community, but only two categories (Freedom at Last!, The Beast, November 2021)? I wonder if you’re confusing ‘analysing’ with ‘glib generalising’, or ‘anti-vaxxer’ with ‘unvaxxed’, or ‘reliable scientific information’ with, say, ‘Pfizer-funded trial results’, or ‘educated’ with ‘persuaded’, or ‘protecting vulnerable people’ with ‘protecting business interests’? Perhaps your phrase, ‘educated to believe’, says it all? That is, that beliefs are what you think count, not sensible hygiene practices or corporate and government accountability and transparency.
Local Government Issues
The Sounds of Silence
Thank you, James, for publishing Haydn Keenan’s article regarding the unacceptable noise levels endured by local residents from overseas travellers! It almost read as if I had dictated it myself! So glad to see that I am not the only one who shares these views.
You may recall my writing into The Beast about this very issue (Restore Some Peace, Quiet and Sanity, Letters, The Beast, March 2019 and Bondi’s Latest Clandestine Backpackers Hostel, Letters, The Beast, October 2019). This last letter prompted a follow up two-page article by Siriol Dafydd in the December 2019 edition after several other readers followed up my letter and contacted The Beast about the same issues. In fact, Haydn Keenan was also quoted in that article in relation to opposing a proposed development application to build a boarding house at Lamrock Avenue, Bondi Beach.
I join Haydn to encourage anyone who can spare some time and/or possess some research and legal skills to send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to assist with restoring expected reasonable amenities to local residents without the unregulated excesses of roaming travellers.
Recently, neighbours concerned about the impacts of a development application lodged letters of objection with Waverley Council expressing their concerns over its impacts. Some of these objections were quickly followed up – within three days in fact – by the applicant, who made similar threats to what he had made to other objectors to his development applications.
This current matter raises two important issues for Council to review. The first being that the applicant felt they had the right to contact objectors and challenge them for their opposition. This behaviour is totally unacceptable. We live in a democracy and are proud of our freedom of speech and the right we have to speak out and oppose others, and the expectation that others will accept that those who object have every right to do so. That is our society and how we expect it to operate. It also underlies the intention of Council’s DA review process.
The second issue concerns the speed with which the applicant contacted the objectors. How did they, within three days, find out the details of those objectors who had written to Council in opposition to the proposal? Clearly Council must have informally released the objectors’ details.
While this is public information, did the objectors know that their names had been released? We think not. If the applicant is to have these details then surely objectors need to be informed of the process. Each has to be treated equally.
We expect that Council will follow up on this important issue and put stricter guidelines in place regarding the release of information concerning residents’ privacy.
Name and suburb withheld for fear of reprisals
It’s Just Too Big!
Hi people – You might remember back in 2020 plans to rebuild the Bronte Surf Club were released, much to the community’s horror. Council opened a feedback platform for people to give their opinions and, frankly, not many people were pleased. The first problem was that the proposed project was way too big and would require completely rebuilding the surf club, the kiosk would be either relocated or gone for good and the bathrooms were a good ten metres further away from the beach than they used to be. Not to mention the sheer size of the thing! It would totally dominate the north end of the beach, and it would be taller, wider and darker than it used to be.
But size was not the only thing troubling the Bronte community. The Bronte Surf Club is an extremely iconic building. Many major fundraisers and events have been hosted there, not to mention the nippers reward ceremonies for kids who have graduated their SRC or simply finished a hard season of nippers. The historic value of the building is unparalleled, but it could do with a spruce up. I think the way to go is to think of ‘restoration’ rather than ‘renovation’. For all it has done for us, I think the least we could do is restrain from annihilating all our Bronte memories.
Fencing Off the Coastline
Dear James – Hidden in the detail of the innocuously named Biodiversity Action Pan 2021-2030 – Waverley LGA Remnant Bushland, are proposals to fence off the clifftops that border Bronte Cutting and Calga Reserve and block public access on the basis that they are places people like to go to take in the views and in the course of so doing they may trample plants.
Every year, over two million people come to the Eastern Beaches to walk along the coast, watch the ocean, the whales, the sunrise and the moon on the water at night. The report is correct that people walk the cliffs above the cutting. There is a semi-defined path through it and I can’t understand why people shouldn’t be there. As to the area below Calga Reserve, people don’t venture down there.
More importantly, fences are unattractive intrusions into the natural world. If they are erected in the cause of protecting nature they will be spoiling the very thing they are supposed to be protecting – the beautiful surroundings we are so privileged to enjoy. It is so much nicer to stand and gaze out to sea without a fence in front of you.
There is a tendency for councils to add more and more clutter to parks and the coastal walk: bins, signage, water fountains, lighting, fences and increasing amounts of concrete. All of it detracts from the natural beauty of the coastline. There is a wildness about the cliffs and the beaches that is in danger of being overwhelmed and spoiled.
Our Local Government Representatives
James – With local elections coming up. It is good to reflect on the performance of our councillors over their tenure.
For some years, I, and other ratepayers, have been requesting that a shower facility be installed at the southern end of Bronte Beach, the place where access to the beach is the highest. When you look at the facilities at other beaches (particularly those in Randwick) it is obvious that Bronte has been sadly neglected. It’s a simple request, and not even an expensive one, but our councillors have shown little interest.
Yes, Bronte has a new bus terminus, and yes, we have a new pathway up the cutting, but these are facilities more for pesky tourists than the local ratepayers. There is also the quandary regarding the surf club, where they want to build “bigger and better”, with residents overwhelmingly rejecting their cashed up proposal.
What really concerns me is their lack of understanding, or simply disinterest, of the real needs of their ratepaying residents. The surf club is not the end of Bronte beach where people go. We all congregate at the southern end (all year round), where the facilities are sadly in need of an upgrade.
To this end, Waverley Council carried out extensive consultation with residents three years ago to produce a plan for the southern area but quickly dumped them with the smell of money coming from the state for the surf club. Even then, in response to our request for the showers the mayor offered us an additional shower point at the pool, claiming there was no plumbing available – a response not well received. Considering the money currently being invested in Bronte, a shower facility, where people need it, should be nothing more than small change.
This is what you call politics. With the major parties dominating local government, minor issues can be ignored at will. I think ratepayers who regularly use Bronte would say to our councillors, “Not a penny should be spent on the surf club until they provide the facilities where they are really needed!”
THE CASE FOR CLEANING UPOUR RECYCLING RULES
In the war against landfill, a crucial battleground is inconsistency in household recycling rules.
Let’s say you’ve finished reading this edition of The Beast and want to recycle it. If you’re based in Woollahra Council, your magazine should be deposited in the yellow bin. But if you drive down the road to Waverley, the magazine belongs in the blue bin. The rules change again if you stroll over to Randwick, where it must be recycled in the yellow bin or, if it has been shredded, in the green bin.
Clearly, even among the Eastern Beaches community, kerbside bin colours and recycling rules vary dramatically between councils. With such inconsistency, it is little wonder that between 10 and 15 per cent of Australia’s household waste is recycled incorrectly. This ‘contaminated’ recycling often ends up in landfill, damaging the environment and representing a missed economic opportunity to recover and reuse the material.
Consistency across councils is urgently needed. In June, the state government responded to this challenge by introducing a Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy encouraging councils to streamline their approach to household waste. Under the new strategy, all councils must adopt a green food organics garden organics (FOGO) bin by 2030, which will go some way towards standardising kerbside bins. It is worth noting that Randwick was ahead of the curve here, having introduced a FOGO bin service in March this year.
The state government’s strategy also offers a joint waste services procurement scheme. Councils can opt into the scheme, which will support them to work together to jointly procure waste services such as bin collection and rubbish processing. The goal of this voluntary scheme is to help councils move towards ‘standardisation of services where appropriate’.
The Eastern Beaches councils are well-positioned to opt in and seize this opportunity to streamline their recycling services. There are key similarities between Waverley, Woollahra and Randwick: all are metropolitan areas and all rank among the most densely populated councils in New South Wales. All three use the same material recycling facility (MRF), operated by VISY. What’s more, these councils already work together on joint tenders and waste management projects.
Clearly there is an appetite among council waste departments for a collaborative approach. It would be wonderful to see this collaboration become more ambitious. The operational challenges will be significant, but with proper funding and support from the state government, the Eastern Beaches councils can coordinate their processes and messaging. Absolute uniformity across collection services is unlikely due to differences in population, geography and traffic. But by working together, there is an opportunity for Eastern Beaches councils to clear up recycling confusion in our region and, perhaps, to emerge as state leaders in recycling harmonisation.
A recent report from the CSIRO found that “[c]lear, consistent information will help reduce contamination and support [an] improved recycling rate”. Households are crying out for this consistency. The Eastern Beaches are a tight knit community, more similar than we are different, and surely we can work towards a place where the most recent edition of The Beast is recycled in the same bin – no matter which council you hail from.
Anjelica Rush is a volunteer with the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Eastern Sydney Community Group. The group works within the local community to tackle environmental issues such as climate change and the biodiversity crisis. If you would like to get involved, please touch base at email@example.com.
Federal Government Issues
Once again, in his Beast column, Dave Sharma says lots of nice things about his commitment to action on climate change. Yet on October 27 (which just happens to be the very day that I read his column) Dave voted to not even allow debate on the Climate Change Bill, introduced into parliament by Zali Steggell. It seems he says one thing to the community, but in parliament he votes just like Barnaby Joyce.
The (Non) Delivery Team
Why is Prime Minister Scott Morrison running the victory lap to celebrate a successful vaccine rollout when he was a late starter and did not even finish in the placings? The race was won by the state and territory leaders.
Why is David Sharma claiming he has taken the cure by swimming in the miracle waters of Bondi Beach? Is it a permanent cure or just temporary relief?
They’re the ultimate scammers, aren’t they? All promises and no delivery!
You open the front door and take delivery of the vaccine box, and when you open it you find the box is half empty and delivered late. The missile box was lost in the post, never to be seen again. They took your deposit for the submarine box, only to tell you that it’s out of stock and won’t be available until 2050. They’re still disputing whether you should get a refund.
Then there’s the climate change package you ordered. It’s delivered late too, and when you open it there are parts missing and there’s no assembly instructions or tool kit. What’s more, you ordered the complete package but you only got the fossil fuel parts.
It’s time to find a new online supplier!
Other Local Happenings
Cheers, big Al
Please pass my thanks to “Big Al” for his beautiful and inspiring portrait of Bondi (Childhood Memories of Bondi, Letters, The Beast, November 2021). It will help us fresher residents understand what the true Bondi lifestyle is meant to be, and aspire to it.
5.45 am Friday, October 29, crowds line Coogee Beach for the show. Two questions from this 70-year-old photographer:
1. How do these young people know that this morning would be like this? I’m down there every day for my walk and swim, but most days there’s only a few people on the beach at this time.
2. Where do they all get their take-away coffees at that hour?
Safe Streets to School
We are a group of concerned residents and parents who have come together to campaign for safer streets for children to walk or ride the whole way to and from school.
To make this a reality, we are calling for councils and governments to install suitable footpaths and pedestrian priority crossings within two kilometres of schools, where there are speed limits of 40km/h or higher.
We are also asking for 30km/h speed limits on streets where there are no pedestrian priority crossings or footpaths.
Of course, we believe we can have higher speed limits on main streets and arterial roads, but on those streets we need separation for people to be safe – dedicated cycle lanes, footpaths and pedestrian priority crossings.
Walking to school improves kids’ fitness and independence, but children are often driven over short distances to school because parents believe walking to school is unsafe. As a result, our streets are subject to tens of thousands more car trips every year, making them even less safe and clogging up roads with unnecessary traffic during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up.
The case for 30km/h speed limits on residential streets…
In August last year, the General Assembly of the United Nations endorsed 30km/h maximum speed limits wherever pedestrians, cyclists or other vulnerable road users mix with motor vehicles. This mandate was part of a strategy to reduce road deaths and injuries by 50 per cent by 2030.
A 30km/h speed limit is already in place in Manly and Liverpool LGAs, Centennial Park, Auckland, Paris, Toronto, Madrid, Edinburgh and Oslo.
Research shows that when children are trying to cross a street without a pedestrian crossing, they can’t judge gaps in traffic consistently when cars go faster than 30km/h.
As Transport for NSW’s Centre for Road Safety states, reducing the car speed to 30km/h would prevent most accidents.
The risk of death or serious injury if someone is hit at 30km/h is less than 10 per cent, compared to 90 per cent if hit at 50km/h. But we do not believe it is fair to wait for an accident to happen and our children to risk injury or death; we want to make our streets to school safe now.
A 2010 study by researchers at University of Royal Holloway London found that primary school children can’t accurately judge the speed of vehicles travelling faster than 30km/h.
A 2017 study by the University of Iowa found that children up to their early teenage years had difficulty safely crossing a busy road with 40km/h traffic, with collision rates as high as one in 20.
So, 30km/h is the maximum speed where our children can “mix” with traffic. On streets with higher speed limits, children and teenagers need crossings and footpaths.
Driving slowly on streets that are not very important for cars is not only a sensible solution but also a cost-effective solution.
It’s not a huge infrastructure change that needs to go through a capital works project or take years to build.
Active travel to school also comes with significant mental and physical health benefits for kids and long-term public health benefits.
Please sign and share our petition to Randwick Council, which has more powers to make walking and cycling safe under its Transport for NSW Treatments for COVID Recovery, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you know of more Randwick City streets that could benefit from either a 30km/h speed limit or dedicated pedestrian crossings and/or better footpaths.
You can also view our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/
Safe Streets To School
Back to Reality
NSW is back to reality,
Now it’s just a formality,
We will make up for lost time,
As we never committed the crime,
It is all now behind us,
Looking forward to the next
chapter for us to discuss.
Bondi Junction ¢