Green Light: $111-Million Revamp of Coogee Bay Hotel Approved After Years of Community Battle

Coogee Bay Hotel
Photo Credit: Google Maps

The controversial $111-million overhaul of the iconic Coogee Bay Hotel has finally been approved, paving the way for a substantial facelift that will partially demolish the heritage-listed seaside venue to make way for apartments, retail spaces and upgraded hotel facilities.

In early May 2024, the Sydney East Planning Panel granted deferred commencement consent for the redevelopment of Coogee Bay Hotel following a tense two-hour public meeting. The 4-1 vote in favour came after developers agreed to major revisions to address concerns raised by vocal community groups over issues like excessive bulk, overshadowing of views and potential disruptions.  

Photo Credit: RandwickCityCouncil

The Redevelopment Vision  

The approved plans will transform the landmark 8,500 sqm-site overlooking Coogee Beach through:

  • Demolition of several existing buildings 
  • Construction of a five/six-storey residential block with 58 apartments
  • A new three-storey hotel wing adding 13 keys to the accommodation for a total of 31 boutique rooms
  • An internal “Selina’s Lane” featuring 11 retail tenancies like cafes and restaurants 
  • Provision of 158 basement parking spaces
  • Refurbishments and heritage upgrades to the remaining historic hotel structures

This scaled-back proposal replaces the developer’s initial 2021 plans for up to 60 apartments and a supermarket.

Coogee Bay Hotel
Photo Credit:

A Saga of Staunch Opposition

For years, the redevelopment has faced staunch community resistance. A petition with nearly 10,000 signatures called for the scrapping of a development project, citing fears it would damage Coogee’s low-rise seaside village character.

At last week’s fiery public hearing, a litany of objections were raised by residents:

  • Excessive height and bulk creating a “canyon” effect along Coogee Bay Road
  • Loss of iconic views of the ocean and Wedding Cake Island 
  • Demolition of the famed Selina’s music venue, which hosted legends like Elton John
  • Noise impacts from construction works and the completed development
  • Disruption that could turn the bustling beachside hub into a “ghost town”

At last week’s fiery public hearing, a litany of objections were raised by residents. David Burden, a local resident, cautioned the panel that the biggest issue was the sheer scale of the redevelopment, which he felt was simply too large for the intimate confines of Coogee Village. In his view, a development of this magnitude would permanently alter the character of the area.

Compromise and Conditions

To secure approval, the developer C!NC Hotels made significant concessions like reducing the maximum height to 21.35m, cutting basement excavation, retaining more heritage facades, and scrapping the planned supermarket.  

However, some objectors felt these amendments still fell short. Lone dissenting panellist and former Randwick mayor Danny Said argued that “community expectations” weren’t fully addressed.  

Among the conditions imposed, the developer must complete a comprehensive noise management plan addressing resident concerns over future disruptions.

Coogee Bay Hotel
Photo Credit: Google Maps

The Way Forward  

With deferred commencement approval now granted, the onus is on C!NC to finalise designs and construction timelines for transforming the ageing hotel site over the coming years.   

Managing director Chris Cheung, whose company has operated the venue for 30 years, said the “renewed Coogee Bay Hotel will reinvigorate the precinct” and better integrate the site with the surrounding area and village atmosphere.

Published 12-May-2024