Angry residents to rally against planned 14-storey Woolies development

By Rachael Houlihan

October 4, 2019 — 3.49pm

Angry residents say a proposal by supermarket giant Woolworths to turn ABC’s old Elsternwick studios into a development of twin towers, one 14 storeys high, will ruin the suburb’s “village feel”.

Protesters will pound the footpath on Saturday morning, rallying against Woolworths’ plan to build the 14- and 10-storey apartment complex, which will also include a supermarket, liquor store and retail spaces, on the corner of Selwyn and Sinclair streets.

Stop the Elsternwick Towers member and rally organiser Karen Boyd-Jones, who lives on nearby St Georges Road, said residents feared it would over-shadow streets and invade residents’ privacy. This is the second rally the group has organised.

She said the development would lead to thousands of extra cars a day “going down our leafy residential streets”. “We just think the amenity of the area will deteriorate significantly.” She said the suburb was a “pretty, heritage area” and the proposed development was adjacent to Victorian and Edwardian houses.

The site was the former home of an ABC studio but is not to be confused with the nearby Gordon Street “dream factory” where Countdown and SeaChange were filmed.

Sinclair Street resident Kathy Deacon said the proposed towers would “destroy the area with its related problems such as traffic, parking, noise, pollution, over-shadowing and loss of privacy”. “This is an inappropriate development with no regard for local residents or communities,” she said.

Glen Eira councillors voted against granting a planning permit for the development in February, after receiving more than 180 objections. Mayor Jamie Hyams said the height, form, scale and design of the proposed development was “excessive” and would “appear overly dominant” from surrounding streets.

Woolworths confirmed that, if the proposal was approved, it would sell a 1000 square metre allotment at a reduced rate to the Jewish Cultural and Arts Precinct to relocate the Jewish Museum, currently in St Kilda, to the Selwyn Street precinct.

“We have been engaging with key community stakeholders as part of the VCAT process and have made changes to our plans as a result of these discussions,” Woolworths head of property development Andrew Loveday said.

The Jewish Holocaust Centre is opposite the proposed towers and museum director Jayne Josem wants the area to become a “vibrant cultural hub”.

“I can understand why [objectors] have concerns but I think they have to be realistic about the growth and development of the neighbourhood,” she said. “Selwyn Street isn’t residential. The community is growing and with that comes towers.”