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First look at controversial Bondi development plans

First look at controversial Bondi development plans

Images of a proposed beach club at Sydney’s Bondi Beach have been released, as its creator prepares to lodge the development application for the venue.

If approved, the Amalfi beach club, named after the coastal Italian town, will take up 1.3 per cent of the beach and will operate out of two shipping containers.

The 875 metre-squared pop-up venue is expected to operate through the summer from November 12 to February 27.

Its creator, Janek Gazecki, told 7NEWS.com.au that while the likelihood of the club being approved is slim, it would have social and economic benefits.

Last year, over 30,000 locals opposing the development signed a petition to stop the beach club from going ahead.

“Given the current level of misinformation in the community, fuelled not just by a very vocal social media contingent, but also political grandstanding, our chances of success at the moment are very slim,” Gazecki said.

“However, if our proposal is assessed democratically on its merits, then its chances would become overwhelmingly high, given it is based on existing and successful beach clubs across Australia, and is highly beneficial both socially and economically.

“My commitment to our supporters, and the Bondi Beach business community, it to see it through to the end and put forward the best argument I can.

“That is all I can do.”

The former lawyer intends to lodge plans for the club this week, adding the club will support local restaurants by hosting them on rotation and will act as a promotional platform for local brands, products, and produce.

With plans for at least 100 patrons to be seated at the club per session, “it will add vibrancy to a beach that has been largely empty since international tourism ended, and will generate approximately $5 million in economic benefits, as well as $1.9 million in jobs,” Gazecki said.

“It will be a fantastic tourist attraction and a thoroughly enjoyable experience for every Australian who wishes to enjoy our favourite beach in this way.

“It is free to enter.

“For everyone else, the remaining 98.7 per cent of the beach remains to be enjoyed in the way it always has, and there is certainly plenty of empty space on it for everyone at the moment.”

Summer at the beach

The club is proposed to operate four days a week in summer from 12pm-9pm on Thursdays through Sundays.

Socially-distanced cabanas and daybeds will be available for patrons to book across four sessions each day. Walk-ins will also be allowed.

When it comes to the club’s look, Gazecki said, “The idea was to recreate an old Italian coastal building, complete with bay windows, shutters, planter boxes and a stucco render peeling away in a few places, for added authenticity.

“Not a squeaky clean modern building, but something replete with history which conjures up quintessential connotations of a laid back European summer."

Gazecki outlined in his proposal that the beach club will be family-friendly and offer ways for those who are less mobile to enjoy the sand

“Our fenced children’s section within the club will mean young families will enjoy the beach in a more relaxed context,” he said.

“They will not have to lug around beach umbrellas, seating or Eskies whilst juggling kids, nor will they have to be on constant lookout to ensure their children don’t wander from view.”

Gazecki also considered the issue of safe alcohol consumption around the water, saying “guests will be generally discouraged from swimming after alcohol consumption, especially during challenging conditions, and a breathalyser as well as a defibrillator will be installed for patrons.”

Community opposition

A Waverly Council spokesperson said any decision made on the proposed club would need to come after Planning Minister Rob Stokes consented, since Bondi Beach is Crown Land.

Stokes previously opposed the idea and called it “elitist”, and has doubled down on his comments.

“My previous views about this kind of proposal remain unchanged and I will step in to stop a proposal to carve off part of the beach for private use,” Stokes said in a statement to 7NEWS.com.au.

“The NSW Government has poured millions into programs to assist local businesses, especially hospitality, get back on their feet after the unprecedented impacts of the pandemic last year.”

Stokes continued, “Comparing a restaurant, one-off festival or the outdoor cinema at Centennial Park with this proposal is ridiculous.

“Our beaches are for everyone and should be free.”

In his application, Gazecki countered that several commercial activities had been held on or near Bondi beach, such as the City2Surf race, The Dinner en Blanc event, The Iconic Swimwear Launch and the Borat Movie launch.

“Allegations of elitism levelled against our project were not only completely offensive, unfounded and based in pure conjecture, but were also profoundly ironic,” he said.

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