Council warned of reputation risk if Cronulla mall becomes construction zone during 2020 celebrations

Work to upgrade Cronulla mall may not occur for three years because of the 150 year anniversary in 2020 of the arrival of the Endeavour in Botany Bay.

Sutherland Shire Council has been warned it will be exposed to “significant reputational risk” if the mall is a construction zone during that period.

Council staff proposed instead that construction could be delayed until winter 2021, when there would also be less disruption for businesses.

The report is expected to be hotly debated at the November 19 council meeting, with some councillors keen to press ahead as quickly as possible with the project.

The Cronulla Chamber of Commerce is also hoping for quick progress but is awaiting a briefing.

The council recently completed the first stage of the Cronulla Town Centre Masterplan, involving the upgrading of the Ocean Grove Avenue precinct, where the pirate ship playground was previously located.

The precinct, with new restaurants in the Banc development opening on to the public domain, has proved very popular with the arrival of warmer weather and contrasts sharply with the run-down look of the rest of the mall.

The report identified funding and timing as challenges in completing further stages of the masterplan.

Estimated cost of constructing stage two, which includes the main section of the mall and the pedestrian route from Kingsway to Perryman Square is $650,000 for design and $14.5 million for construction.

Since staff reported early this year no money was available for further work, they have identified $6 million through the anticipated sale of council land.

However, this funding was “not guaranteed nor sufficient to undertake the expected full scope of work”, the report said.

Scheduling was another concern of staff.

“The timing of large public domain works are always problematic as the works will reduce access, create noise disruption to the public and the business owners,” the report said.

“To minimise the impact, these works are usually undertaken in non-peak business periods this is usually the quieter trading period of the winter months.

“The opportunity to undertake large scale works in the 2019 winter season will be difficult to  achieve based on the estimated detailed design time schedule and then the ability to procure and order the stone pavers. 

“If the works were to commence in late 2019 they would likely to still be underway during the early 2020, which is when council will be conducting a number of events for 2020 ‘First Encounter’ acknowledging 250 years since first contact between the Gweagal and Lieutenant Cook.

“This is considered to be a significant reputational risk for council should there be business and visitor dissatisfaction with the impacts of the delivery of the works at that time.”

Cr Carol Provan, who was mayor when the mall was constructed in 1988 and has strongly supported the renewal project, said there was “sensitivity” following delays with the Gymea Village upgrade.

“I don’t think there is any need to delay it until after 2020 – the celebrations will be mainly around the foreshores,” she said.

The Infrastructure Committee, at its meeting on Monday night, fully supported moving forward with stage two, with extensive community and stakeholder engagement, but no recommendation was made on timing.

“Once extensive community and stakeholder engagement has been undertaken to get feedback on the design, council will then consider the commitment of funds to the next phase, construction,” a spokeswoman said.

“The masterplan aims to improve the amenity and accessibility of the Cronulla Town Centre for our community and visitors to the area and support economic growth in the local area.”

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