2020 Woolworths objection letter

Woolworths Economic & Social Impact Assessment

Open for comment until Tuesday April 14, 2020

More traffic, less parking and the loss of our local family run shops, businesses & cafes – these will be the outcomes of a Woolworths at the Bronte RSL site. Don’t delay, object today.

Cut and paste our letter below but remember to add your name and address. Also add your own introduction to personalise your submission.


April 2020

To Mitchell Reid

Executive Manager, Development Assessment

Waverley Council


Re DA 231/2019 Woolworths Metro at 113 Macpherson Street, Bronte

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Social and Economic Impact Assessment for the Woolworths Metro DA and the peer review of that report by HIllPDA.

I make the following comments in regard to the DA:

Report Validity

While there are many inaccuracies and unsubstantiated claims in the Ethos Urban report, fundamentally it, and the HillPDA peer review, rely on economic models and projections which are no longer valid. As a result of the COVID pandemic, it is universally acknowledged that our economy is in serious trouble and there are no certainties at this time that we will return to the situation of retail spending growth cited in these reports to justify an additional food/cafe/takeaway business in Bronte.

Many of the small cafes and shops in the centre are currently partially trading or even closed. A Woolworths supermarket will make it less likely they will be able to weather the COVID storm and reopen in the future. This will lead to a weakening of the viability of our Neighbourhood Centre.

For this reason alone, the reports must be dismissed as incorrect.

The Ethos Urban report fails to give any case studies which show how a Woolworths Metro actually impacts, positively or negatively, on a Neighbourhood Centre. It relies simply on opinions rather than real life economic examples.

This is just one example of how these reports are incorrect, misleading or lacking documented evidence.

As as result of these issues, the two reports cannot be considered valid examinations of the matters at the heart of the WLPP’s request for further information from Woolworths.

Conflict of Interest

In 2013 HillPDA wrote a report to Council supporting a large supermarket on the Bronte RSL site. This pro-supermarket view was not declared as a potential conflict of interest in the HillPDA 2020 peer review. In my view this pre-existing bias, and lack of the potential conflict of interest declaration, invalidates this peer review report.

A new review

Given the above, a further peer review of the Ethos Urban report should be sought from an independent planning expert with no pre-existing views on the RSL site. The review must take into account the new economic conditions caused by the COVID pandemic.

Waverley LEP 2012 Objectives

The reports and the DA must be assessed against the objectives of the LEP and Waverley’s Villages Strategy.

The objectives of the WLEP  2012 are:

  • To provide a range of small-scale retail, business and community uses that serve the needs of people who live or work in the surrounding neighbourhood.
  • To ensure that non-residential uses do not result in adverse impacts on the amenity of existing and future residential premises having regard to building design, operation and activities, transport, traffic generation and the car parking capacity of local roads.
  • To strengthen the viability of Waverley’s existing business centres as places of vitality for investment, employment and cultural activity.
  • To provide retail facilities and business services for the local community commensurate with the centre’s role in the local retail hierarchy. 

The reports do not provide evidence that the Woolworths Metro DA will meet these objectives. Specifically:

  1. Range of businesses

The Social and Economic Impact Assessment provided by Ethos Urban substantially underestimates the number of fresh food, café, bakery, takeaway and grocery stores already available in the local area. It omits a number of food businesses in the Charing Cross precinct (1 km from the site) and the Frenchman’s Road centre (1.5 km from the site).

It is clear that a Woolworths Metro does not increase the range of businesses. It simply replicates the current offer.

    1. Adverse impacts on the amenity of residential premises

The report does not address our concerns about the social and economic impacts of increased traffic and congestion – already a serious challenge for the Macpherson Street strip and surrounding streets. It doesn’t provide concrete evidence (a traffic study or residents’ survey) to prove that more people will not drive to the Neighbourhood Centre if a Woolworths Metro is approved. The area is already congested and parking completely unavailable at most times of the day and night. The proposed store – as a cafe, takeaway, bakery, fresh food and grocery outlet designed for “top up shopping” – will not reduce existing traffic as there is congestion now without this additional store. Locals will continue to drive through the area to Bondi Junction and other centres for larger shopping trips.

    1. Viability, investment, employment and cultural activity.

How will Woolworths Metro benefit the Bronte community? Despite hundreds of Woolworths Metro stores across Sydney, and demonstrated negative effects of these stores in areas such as Coogee and Kirribilli (where smaller businesses have been forced to close), the report gives no evidence of any positive benefit provided by Woolworths in similar retail areas.

Any businesses or cultural centres opening on the Bronte Place site will provide jobs. Three shops or businesses (the use that is currently approved) would employ just as many people as one Woolworths Metro.

The report gives no evidence of Woolworths contributing to a local identity and sense of community. Is a national supermarket chain appropriate for Bronte? There are no other major chains in the area but rather owner-operated and small-scale, local franchises.

While there are many more inconsistencies in the reports, I hope this brief outline assists in demonstrating their failure to demonstrate any social or economic benefit to Bronte, and to examine the adverse impacts on our community, should a Woolworths Metro DA be allowed.

Are Waverley Council and the Waverley Local Planning Panel prepared to allow this development and bear the responsibility for destroying Bronte’s vibrant, diverse and unique neighbourhood centre, in direct contradiction to the Waverley LEP stated objectives?

This DA must be rejected and the existing approval for three small shops on the site upheld – in keeping with the local character and our community’s wishes.

Yours sincerely