An artist’s impression of the proposed redevelopment. Source: Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects.

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BY CHRISTOPHER HARRIS

Bondi residents rallied against community cultural space in Bondi Pavilion being converted for commercial interest at a meeting on Monday night.

The group said the Waverley Council’s plan for the pavilion would turn it into a “shopping and restaurant precinct,” robbing the locals of community space.

Residents, pavilion business owners, as well as members of the arts sector met with councillors and the architect seeking justification of changes to the pavilion.

Many are concerned that the $38 million refurbishment of the pavilion, which will possibly see the installation of a high end restaurant replace a theatre, will mean losing community space.

Community group Save Bondi Pavillion said that community space was currently two thirds of the building, but under the new plan commercial space would consume 80 per cent of pavillion.

The redevelopment is expected to cost $38 million, $15 million of which will come from council coffers, the remainder from some kind of loan.

Greens Councillor Dominic Wy Kanak, who spoke at the meeting said the community was right to be concerned because the council was spending their money.

“The community wants a decent question and answer time to justify the changes they are making to the Pavilion.”

People are warry of council saying it is only $14-15 million towards the upgrade. Yet they are talking about a $38 million for the concept design, which would blow out to $40 million.

“They want the community to sign off on $15 million of their money, and then sign off on some kind of government loan for rest of the money.”

The council announced plans for the development in December. The period for community submissions was extended by two weeks until Sunday March 13.

The Bondi Beach Precinct Committee came together with other local groups and businesses to try and preserve the building for the community’s use.

Convenor of the Bondi Beach Precinct Committee Lenore Kulakauskas said that the community was concerned with the spending of their money, with no advantages in the reworked design for the community.

She said central to their complaints was the demolition of the Pavillion’s theatre which would be replaced with a multipurpose structure.

They are also unhappy with the drastic reduction in the community space of music rooms and meeting rooms.

She said she was concerned that Mayor Sally Betts was not there to listen to the community concerns. Bondi Ward Councillors including Clr Wy Kanak and John Wakefield spoke at the meeting.

Ms VISK said she expected that if the Mayor decided to bring the matter at the March 15 Council meeting next week, there would not be enough time for council to properly consider submissions.

She said she was disappointed the mayor and  Liberal Councillor for the Bondi Ward,  Joy Clayton, didn’t.

“Not one Liberal turned up. Does that mean they’re not intending to listen to the residents?”

“The mayor should have been there, she should have been there to listen to what we had to say.

“It is not a detailed plan, it is a ‘it can be this, it can be that’ approach. The reality of it is if you’ve got a commercial kitchen installed, it is very unlikely that a room is going to be used as a community meeting room.”

Greens Senator Lee Rhianon, who lives in the local area, said “there was a lot of deception coming from Sally Betts.”

“What the mayor is doing is attempting to privatize the pavilion. Those with big money could be able to afford these restaurants.”

“What the Greens are saying we acknowledge the need to upgrade the pavilion, but what needs to be foundation for change is that the ratio to community to commercial to space needs to stay the same.”

She said she had heard of instances of community activities being told they will have to relocate from pavilion by the end of the year.

“That information highlights the so called consultation process as deceptive, because here we know community groups are already going to be moved.”