Council urged to back its robust plan

The West Australian

31st October 2018.

The City of South Perth looks likely to again come under sustained attack from a group of residents over plans to formalise its activity centre plan, the result of years of painstaking negotiation between residents, business owners, developers and councillors.

According to an October 20 Facebook post by Save the South Perth Peninsula: “People are shocked and horrified with what is being proposed by the city’s planners. They won’t produce any images to show the extent, so we’ve done our own.”

The post, which exhorts its readers to encourage councillors to refuse to endorse the draft activity centre plan, implies that the plan will result in towers of up to 70 storeys along Mill Point Road and that “your neighbourhood will be turned into a forest of towers all the way from the gold course to the old mill”.

It includes a photoshopped picture of towers that appear to dwarf the tallest CBD buildings and are bundled close together.

The City of South Perth last year engaged urban design and placemaking outfit RobertsDay to help it reset its planning and development parameters after a three-year war over planning, height and traffic.

The City of South Perth’s proposed activity centre plan is designed to accommodate projected and required growth to ensure a functioning, sustainable and viable activity centre, creating a “robust planning framework”.

Its draft amendment 61 appears to quarantine the highest buildings to the business centre and near the Perth Zoo.

Planning Institute of Australia WA president Ray Haeren said Perth needed to embrace higher-density living and locations such as South Perth and Applecross were ideal.

“PIA WA believes the work the City of South Perth undertook during the consultation process over many years should not be dismissed based on some localised reactions once developments (start),” Mr Haeren said.

Sirona Capital managing director Matthew McNeilly said the City of South Perth had “sought to manage the tension between its planning and development vision and what a vocal and motivated segment of the community wants”.

“I believe all parties want the same thing: developments of the highest quality and exemplary design,” Mr McNeilly said. “We believe the most appropriate outcome is a limited number of taller, slender towers central to the peninsula, which will also help South Perth achieve the density targets sought by the State Government.

“South Perth is never going to resemble Manhattan, Singapore or Hong Kong and any suggestion that it will is simply scaremongering.”

Sirona Capital is, with Singapore’s Chip Eng Seng Corp, planning to build a $110 million, 41-level, slim-line tower with 113 apartments in South Perth.

Last year RobertsDay director Duane Cole said the idea of the consultation was to work out common goals and planning aspirations.

City of South Perth mayor Sue Doherty said then the process had brought the players together to work out a new understanding of how the area should develop in the future.

RobertsDay included suggestions to ensure certainty about how height bonuses would be applied, to promote slender towers and to ensure distance between towers.

The draft adopts four character areas, Mends, Richardson, Mill Point and Hillside, with Mends to feature a mix of uses including significant retail, office, residential and short stay. Hillside would remain largely residential.

Resolving the planning impasse in South Perth is important for future development, which includes extensive riverside parkland and the Perth Zoo.

Conflict over development has resulted in only a couple of the several mooted mixed-use residential towers, approved three years ago, getting off the ground.

Zone Q’s The Pinnacle was first to be built, followed by Finbar’s Aurelia.

Edge Visionary Living’s previously approved Lumiere tower has been ensnared in legal actions.

And Finbar, which was planning a $400 million 38-level mixed-use Civic Heart development withdrew, citing planning concerns. Sirona Capital allowed its original approval for a 38-level The Glass House to lapse, replaced with its newer version.

The City of South Perth acknowledges that as Perth continues to grow there will be greater demand for “living and working opportunities” close to central Perth.

“It is therefore important the area is well-planned and carefully managed to ensure that growth builds on the area’s unique characteristics, enhances economic prosperity and strengthens its vitality for current and future residents, workers and visitors,” the council briefing notes say.