Monday, June 22, 2009

North Bondi clubhouse rescue, by Sharon Labi - The Sunday Telegraph - 21st June 2009

Australia's most famous beachfront is set for a $6 million makeover with plans to build a new surf club.

Despite being stripped of a $1.7 million federal Government grant last year, North Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club has lodged plans with Waverley Council for a modern, white, three-storey building at the world famous tourist spot.

Opposition leader and local Wentworth MP Malcolm Turnbull - who has been a member of the club since childhood - has personally donated $100,000, while the state government kicked in $500,000 and Waverley Council $750,000.

Members and nippers have also been slugged a building levy to help fund the redevelopment. The existing club is riddled with concrete cancer and has no access for the disabled.

It also lacks adequate storage space for all its surfcraft.

Its replacement will have a basement storage area, a gym, a boat shed and a function room.

Club administration director Karen Scott said about half the needed money had been raised and members were not keen to borrow the rest.

She added: "We're not looking at rebuilding until we've raised all the funds. We're still fairly heavily involved in a fund-raising effort. That was put back pretty severely when the Federal Government stripped our grant.

The grant was awarded in 2007 by the previous Coalition government, but scrapped by Labor in last year's Budget.

The DA may be reviewed if the club cannot raise the balance. Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said council had set a benchmark of $750,000 for several of its surf clubs and it was unlikely council would give North Bondi any more money.

Mr Turnbull has said his father used to take him to the club before he could walk, and last year accused Regional Development Minister Anthony Albanese of pulling the grant to punish Bondi because it was in his electorate.

Once approved, the DA is valid for five years. The plans will be on display until July 17. (Credit: The Sunday Telegraph)