Controversial plans for the redevelopment of the heritage-listed Bondi Pavilion could be dropped following the election of a Labor mayor and Greens deputy mayor to the Waverley Council in Sydney’s east.
The newly elect mayor John Wakefield said in his acceptance speech on 26 September that he will reject the previous plans for the pavilion, designed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer (TZG).
“Our key priorities for this term of council include the drafting of a new plan for Bondi Pavilion and seeing it through to its completion, with the establishment of a community advisory group,” he said.
The Waverley Council, under then-Liberal mayor Sally Betts, first unveiled TZG’s design for the $38 million renovation of the complex in 2015.
Billed as a project that would restore the pavilion to its architectural roots, the original proposal would have included additional exhibition spaces and outdoor amphitheatres. The first floor of the existing building was slated for a number of commercial tenancies including cafes, restaurants and function rooms.
Tonkin Zulaikha Greer director Peter Tonkin said in 2015 that the redevelopment would open the building to the beach and remove previous unsightly additions.
“This building is a precious heritage landmark, and the project will conserve and reinstate so much of its heritage character,” he said.
Built in 1929, the Bondi Pavilion was designed by Robertson and Marks, who won a design competition for the project. The NSW Heritage Register describes the building as “a fine example of Inter-War Mediterranean style,” and notes that “its construction marked the establishment of Australian beach culture.”
Following the unveiling of the plans, the council received more than 650 submissions from the public, with the most common concern being the increased commercialization of the pavilion and a perceived loss of community facilities.
Residents furious at plans to privatize part of the building mounted a sustained campaign against the development. Unionist Jack Mundey, famed for his role in the 1970s “green bans” movement to stave off excessive development at Sydney’s Millers Point and The Rocks, is among the opponents and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has implemented its own green ban on the project. Actor Michael Caton also lent his voice to the opposition.
A development application with a revised design that retained existing music studios, was submitted by the council in April 2017.
The plans for the pavilion became a hotly contested issue during the council election. The now-deputy mayor Dominic WY Kanak wrote on social media three days before the September 9 election, “I have always supported the community and its plans for Bondi Pavilion and their desire to keep it in community hands.
“Our community wants to make it a place that celebrates Aboriginal culture, heritage and traditions as well as its surfing and beach lifestyle.”
Five Liberal candidates were elected to council, having received 44.8 percent of the vote, while four Labor and three Greens candidates were elected having received 28.1 percent and 21.3 percent of the vote respectively.
Greens MP and local government spokesperson David Shoebridge said, “In Waverley a record three Greens councillors form part of a non-Liberal majority that will save Bondi Pavilion and oust unpopular Liberal mayor Sally Betts.”
The vote for mayor and deputy mayor positions was seven votes to five; Wakefield’s term will last for two years, while Kanak’s will be for 12 months.