North Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club’s sparkling new clubhouse is unfit for purpose and a waste of money, club members have told the Bondi View. But the claims have been strenuously denied by club management.
Replacing the post-war structure that had lingered for 77 years, the $7 million, four-storey building comprises a gym, education and training room, changerooms, function rooms, and a subterranean level for surfcraft and equipment. The former clubhouse was in drastic need of updating, described as “fit to be condemned by the time it was demolished” by the federal member for Wentworth, and donor to the renovation fund, Malcolm Turnbull.
The redeveloped clubhouse opened in September last year to a series of flattering reviews, and architects Durbach Bloch Jaggers were lauded for the design, deemed both functional and aesthetically fitting. But not all members of the club are pleased with the renovations.
“For a facility that was updated because it did not sufficiently serve the needs of club members, the renovations do not necessarily achieve this purpose,” one competitive rower, who did not wish to be identified, told the Bondi View.
“The gym is no different from any other part of the clubhouse in that the facilities don’t match the needs of any particular group in the surf club,” he said.
“From a competitors’ perspective, there is not nearly enough floor space or equipment to train adequately or correctly. Even in terms of the kids, there’s not enough there to learn with.”
Another club member and rower, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, questioned the utility of the equipment.
“Almost everything is doubled up,” he said, listing equipment items used for identical purposes.
“The lifting platform we used to have in here [after the renovations] was shit. People in the changerooms would come up and complain constantly that it was too loud. It was taken away, and now they won’t fix it up, even though it’s an easily solved problem.”
Club management said the procurement process had been transparent, but acknowledged some difficulties in the execution of the redevelopment.
“The gym refit was overseen by a full gym committee,” a club spokesperson said.
“They investigated what equipment we had previously and utilised contacts within the gym community and their buying power to purchase brand new equipment at an unbeatable price.
“Obviously with any new building there are going to be some teething problems but we’re working with the builders to rectify that,” he said.
The club members who spoke to the Bondi View also allege both office and surfcraft storage facilities within the new structure are inappropriate for purpose.
“Transporting equipment is not any easier in the new building,” one member said. “The surfcraft storage area is badly designed. It’s hard to get gear in and out.”
The club spokesperson said those claims were “completely unfounded” and described the redevelopment as a success.
“We have double the space for storage than we had before.”
On inspection last week the storage facilities for surfboats were bare. One of two roller doors is unusable because a large concrete pylon blocks the entrance. The pylon and the roller door do not appear on the development plans lodged with Waverley Council.