Locals who have fought to save the Bondi Pavilion from commercialisation are celebrating after a $38 million plan for its redevelopment is now likely to be dumped in favour of a more “community-friendly” option.
A report has been submitted to Waverley Council that recommends scrapping a development application that had included a grand entrance and atrium, a new theatre and space for restaurants and cafes.
Instead, the Mayor of Waverley, John Wakefield, is pushing for the building to be renovated in a way that leaves it largely unchanged, and for millions of dollars less.
“We are looking at doing a much more modest renovation,” he said.
Mr Wakefield said the theatre, music room, large ballrooms and seagull room would be retrained and refurbished in their current positions.
“I can guarantee that the community use of the Bondi Pavilion will be retained,” he said.
“The building will be renovated in much the form that you see now.”
He said that commercial use would be concentrated and restricted to the ground floor.
The new renovations on the heritage-listed building would also cost a lot less – an estimated $20-25 million.
Kilty O’Brien from the Save Bondi Pavilion campaign said it was a great day of celebration for locals who felt the redevelopment would leave them without an unofficial town centre.
“It’s a great lesson of what normal people banding together, working together, can achieve,” she said.
Jack Thompson says hands off the Bondi Pavilion!
Posted by Save Bondi Pavilion on Friday, May 27, 2016
“This is a credit to the thousands and thousands of people across Waverley that took a stance on a local issue that was important to them, that worked tirelessly for an outcome.
“We live in one of the most densely populated areas in Sydney and we’re lacking in community space.”
How did we get here?
The planned makeover to the pavilion, which was built in 1928, was announced by former Waverley mayor Sally Betts who said the “grand old lady … really needs a rework”.
Ms Betts said she wanted the building to be “functional” but preserve its “look and feel”.
She refuted the notion that she wanted the pavilion to be privatised and that the retail spaces would be given to pricey restaurants.
However, the community was largely opposed to the upgrade and the campaign mobilised with strength, assisted by celebrities including actor Michael Caton and former politician and Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett.
“You sting the Bondi community $38 million to do up the pavilion, but then you freeze them out of the finished product,” Caton said.
“Great plan hey?
“The whole upstairs area will be rented out to whoever can afford it.”
The redevelopment was a significant aspect of last year’s local council elections which saw long-serving mayor Sally Betts losing her majority and her position.
“The former mayor was told over and over again by the overwhelming majority that we did not want this commercial plan,” Ms O’Brien said.
“If she had have listened, there may have been a different outcome to that election.”
While supporters of the Save Bondi Pavilion campaign are celebrating, they are aware there is still much to do to restore the building to its former glory and to accommodate the growing community and visitors.
“It wasn’t just about dumping the plan – there was talk about the activation and maintenance of Bondi Pavilion,” she said.
“While we’re excited that we won that campaign, the reality is there is a lot of work to do. It is run down and we want it to be a better community centre, so we’re excited by that future.”