FREE: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

August 7, 2017 by Roz Tarszisz
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Want to build a new synagogue in Bondi? Given the existence of other synagogues in and around the popular beachside suburb, it should be possible to get permission from Waverley Council who have jurisdiction over such matters.

Street design

Sure, this particular house of worship would come with apartments above it, but then real estate comes at a premium in Bondi.

Ruvien Morrison, a representative of Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe (FREE) who are seeking to build the synagogue, told  J-Wire that Waverley Council  is not being entirely accurate in the way it has portrayed itself in the stoush between the Council and FREE over rejection of planning permission.

Last week, J-Wire reported that Waverley Council wished to reassure the community that Waverley Council did not refuse this development application, saying that it was a decision of the Land and Environment Court  (LEC) and confirmed that a synagogue is a permitted use at this location.

While it is the LEC which has rejected the application, it has done so because of matters pertaining to building permission which had been brought up by the Council.

According to Morrison, during a pre-development consultation in November 2015, it was Council town planners who suggested that the Development Application (DA) should include a security wall installed around the perimeters of the synagogue and incorporated into the landscaping

By including a blast proof wall in the design as well as a security report to justify its construction, time would be saved in the long run in getting the DA approved.

“We did that but didn’t hear back from Council and received no response to emails. After 40 days and no word from Council we took the plans to the Land and Environment Court (LEC) for mediation.  Council responded with 92 points of contention in 17 paragraphs.

“The security issue was not raised at this stage.  We addressed most of the 92 points during the conciliation process and the Commissioner for LEC was satisfied. He asked all parties to go back to the drawing board and address the minor issues.

“Then Council issued 122 points of contention including the security risk of the wall. The blast wall would have protected the synagogue itself but exploding shrapnel could cause damage to surrounding people and property.

“So we removed the wall – which we had not asked for in the first place” he said.

Morrison believes the group was led on by Council, the matter dragged out and that FREE had no choice but to go to the LEC and end up in arbitration.

“My group gave up the wall on the understanding that once the wall was gone, objections to the building would be gone. Morrison said that the development was refused “solely on risk factor”.


4 Responses to “FREE: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    In Sydney some smaller synagogues are struggling to stay open but in Bondi Jewish residents want to open another one in Bondi.

    Why not support, and attend, existing synagogues (same for other religions) nearby rather than constructing a new expensive building?

    • Lioudmila Levina says:

      Adrian, the new Synagogue will not be “one more” in this area. It will replace the existing old Synagogue on O’Brien Street. The old one is very small and tiny.

      • Adrian Jackson says:

        OK point taken about new replacing old, but my comment still stands about supporting and utilizing other nearby synagogues in financial difficulty as described in J-Wire.

        • Eleonora Mostert says:

          Would there be as much trouble had the Muslims asked to build a Mosque??? No I think not, yet they are the ones who commit the terrorism, let let some more in shall we!

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