Council report reveals no funds available for Cronulla mall upgrade and rejects restoration of women's rest centre

The planned $28.5 million upgrade of Cronulla mall will have to be delayed indefinitely unless extra money can be found, a council report says.

The report also recommended against restoring the demolished women’s rest centre despite a storm of protests and petitions containing a total of 5500 names.

Council staff prepared the report following community feedback on the draft Cronulla Town Centre Public Domain Master Plan, which was exhibited in September last year.

“To date, council has invested in actual dollars and staff time over $460,000 in the past four years in the steps leading to this report on the draft Master Plan,” staff advised.

“The draft Master Plan’s proposed capital works program is estimated to cost $28.5M and is capable of being delivered in stages over 5-10 years.

“However, there is no capacity in the Resourcing Strategy [the budget adopted late last year] to fund any further works in the draft plan beyond the current Ocean Grove Avenue works.

“In the absence of financial capacity being created via the Resourcing Strategy, the renewal of the Cronulla Plaza will be delayed indefinitely.”

In November last year, the council rejected a proposal by staff to increase rates by 7.2 per cent each year for three years, with a 17 per cent jump for apartments.

Labor and Liberal councillors initially agreed to support a big rates rise, but the move was killed off by Liberal councillor Kent Johns, who described it as a “dodgy back room deal” which ratepayers would not accept.

Councillors will consider the report on the mall upgrade plan at their meeting on February 19.

The document said the exhibition of plans had demonstrated significant community awareness of the Master Plan with differing views on various elements.

Closure of the women’s rest centre was the source of most negative feedback.

“Notwithstanding the call of petitioners, it is not considered appropriate to reinstate the former WRC service,” the report said. 

“The provision of parents’ amenities was a duplication of more modern facilities available in the nearby Cronulla Central complex. 

“The service has since been closed, the building has been demolished and council has actioned its decision to provide a temporary playground on the site. 

“Going forward, if financial capacity is created in the future to carry out works, it will be appropriate for council to open a conversation regarding a new long-term future for the site and its potential to activate the plaza and facilitate a range of benefits for the community.”

The new playground replaced the pirate ship playground, which was removed from Ocean Grove Avenue so the area could be upgraded by the council in conjunction with the private redevelopment of the former Commonwealth Bank building.

“Public domain works to upgrade Ocean Grove Avenue are continuing on time and budget with practical completion expected in May, 2018,” the report said.

“The temporary playground appears to be a popular facility, while community reaction to the demolition of the WRC appears to have peaked several months ago.”

Feedback on the draft Masterplan included 149 responses to the online survey, 28 submissions by email or letter, three petitions  and two resubmitted petitions.

“The three submitted petitions objected to the removal of the WRC and its omission from the draft Master Plan and contained a combined total of approximately 4000 names,” the report said. 

“The two resubmitted petitions were previously submitted to council in 2014 and were in objection to council's intended closure of the women's rest centre at that time. 

“The resubmitted petitions contained a combined total of some 5500 names.”

The report said, most of the 149 responses to the online survey were from Cronulla and Woolooware residents, and 64 per cent were highly satisfied, satisfied or neutral in their views, while 36 per cent were either dissatisfied or highly dissatisfied. 

Most of the 28 submissions by email or letter were from from the same suburbs and 22 expressed either full or qualified objection to the draft Master Plan.

The report’s other recommendations included continuing to progress traffic and parking plans.


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