'Horrified' to learn of a 13-storey building proposal north of Monro Park

Rezoning bid: Artist's impression of the proposed development, looking from Cronulla station. Picture: supplied
Rezoning bid: Artist's impression of the proposed development, looking from Cronulla station. Picture: supplied

I have been a resident of the Sutherland Shire for 66 years, since moving to Jannali with my parents in 1953, and a resident of Cronulla for 45 years.

Twenty five years of my teaching career were spent in Sutherland Shire schools, including 16 years as a school principal. I served 15 years with Cronulla Surf club as an inflatable rescue boat driver, swim every morning with the Oak Park Pool "Jellybeans" and enjoy a wide network of friends in the Cronulla and Sutherland Shire Community.

In my 45 years as a Cronulla resident, I have seen many developments, most of which have been positive and sympathetic to the Cronulla urban landscape and environment and an improvement on some of the unattractive developments of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Some of the more recent developments, including some still under construction, it must be said, are too bulky, with insufficient green spaces around them and impact negatively on the Cronulla skyline.

I am well aware of the benefits of initiatives to attract and cater for tourism in our area and I generally support these initiatives. Most of the improvements to the Cronulla town centre over the past 40 years have been beneficial to locals and visitors alike, and important for the local economy.

I was, however, horrified to read in the Leader last week, of a proposal for a 13 storey, 50 metre high building, immediately north of Monro Park.

Monro Park is a unique and highly-valued, open, sunny space in Cronulla. It is well-used and loved by all who enjoy its warm tranquility as a respite from the busier precinct of Cronulla Street and Mall.

Families and their children, groups of mothers with their babies and pre-schoolers, gather on the grass in the northern end of Monro Park, conveniently close to the coffee shops along Beach Park Avenue.

Particularly in the winter months, the warming sunshine makes this area very attractive and welcoming. The adjacent food and drink outlets, whilst in an older building, are atmospheric and sympathetic to the casual, beachside environment.

In the Leader article, the developer admits that "overshadowing of the Park was 'obviously the biggest concern'." He also states that "the modelling we have done shows that even on the worst day of the year, the winter solstice, 60 percent of the park will be in sunlight."

This is like saying that, at that time, the development will deprive the park of 40 percent of its sunlight.

When development of this site was previously mooted, a six storey, building was proposed, which would still have unacceptable impact on the sunlight available to Monro Park. Now, presumably because of the inclusion of a hotel to benefit the local economy, Council is being asked to amend the 2015 LEP to allow doubling of the permitted maximum building height and increased floor space ratio.

This is despite the fact that four of the proposed floors are to be for commercial office space, a use which only serves to unnecessarily increase the height of the building and adversely impact the availability of sunlight for Monro Park.

There are at least two other examples of buildings in Cronulla, one extremely bulky and with almost no setbacks or landscaping, where the developers were granted special considerations in height and floor space on the grounds that the buildings would be serviced apartments for tourist accommodation.

Subsequently, both buildings were re-purposed and sold off as private, permanent apartment buildings. The same scenario could easily occur in the case of the development north of Monro Park and the only beneficiaries would be the developers and the subsequent owners of high value apartments.

I have no concerns about a 13-storey hotel, sensitively designed and sympathetic to its surroundings, located elsewhere in Cronulla, but definitely not immediately north of, and overshadowing such a vital public space as Monro Park.

Rather than amending current building rules to favour this development, Council should be protecting the rights of the residents it serves by insisting that any developments do not deprive this priceless asset of any of the existing sunshine it currently enjoys.

Richard Morey, Cronulla