Smaller South Perth towers head back to JDAP

Business News

13th November 2019.

Two previously-rejected South Perth apartment proposals will be reassessed by planning authorities next week, with local developer Sirona Capital and a private Singaporean group scaling back their towers in efforts to win approval.

Sirona has reduced its 44-storey proposal for the corner of Labouchere Road and Lyall Street to 37 levels, after the project was rejected by the Metropolitan Central Joint Development Assessment Panel late last year.

The JDAP initially knocked back the proposal on the basis that its height was five times greater than the 25-metre height limit prescribed by planning guidelines in South Perth.

Following its December rejection, Sirona appealed to the State Administrative Tribunal, a process that resulted in extensive mediation and collaboration with the City of South Perth’s Design Review Panel.

As well as the reduction in height, Sirona has reduced the number of apartments in the building from 120 to 99, while also including new renewable energy initiatives, a public gallery and a co- working space.

The revised plan, which is estimated to cost $65 million to build and was designed by architecture firm Bates Smart, has been recommended for approval by City of South Perth planning officers as it addressed the reasons for rejection.

State government architect Geoff Warn described its design as exemplary.

“The architectural proposal for 31 Labouchere Road is distinctive and memorable, exhibiting high levels of quality across all aspects of design,” Mr Warn said in his assessment of the project.

“The architectural aesthetic, the interface of the building with the public realm and the provision of community benefit are all generally successful and indicative of a high-quality development.

“It has the potential to deliver an exceptional, unique landmark for the area.”

Sirona Capital managing director Matthew McNeilly said the revised plan was consistent with other proposals in South Perth, as well as the council’s vision for the area.

“We acknowledge the comments by the WA Government Architect, Geo! Warn, describing our proposal as achieving a status of 'exemplary design'," Mr McNeilly said.

“Mr Warn also notes that our proposal corresponds to the vision that the City has outlined in its draft Activity Centre Plan, which supports taller buildings and is consistent with the City’s plans for the proposed South Perth Station Precinct.

“It is now up to the JDAP to consider our revised proposal, given the detailed input and recommendation from the

City of South Perth’s planning experts and the advice from the government architect.”

Sirona’s new proposal will be assessed on November 18. The developer has been seeking to build on the site since 2015, after it won approval to build a $160 million, 39 level, Woods Bagot-designed apartment tower known as The Glasshouse.

That proposal did not proceed due to ongoing uncertainty with South Perth's planning guidelines dampening buyer appetite in the suburb.

Meanwhile, Singaporean-owned developer NL Homes Melville Pty Ltd has followed a similar path back to JDAP for its apartment proposal located at 50-52 Melville Parade.

The Hillam Architects-designed 31 storey, 123 apartment and 20 serviced apartments plan was rejected in June last year, over concerns that its height and bulk was inappropriate for the site, and the building as proposed would have adverse impacts to the amenity of the area.

Like Sirona, the developer appealed the rejection at SAT, with mediation and Design Review Panel discussions resulting in revised plans being submitted last month.

The fresh proposal is 5 storeys shorter at 26 levels, with the number of apartments scaled back to 104, while the number of serviced apartments has been increased to 30.

JDAP documents indicate the proposal has a construction cost estimated at $85 million.

As well as reduced height of around 14 metres, the scale of the building's podium has been revised to a much smaller scale.

City of South Perth officers acknowledged the new plan responded to the suburb’s planning framework and acknowledged the concerns raised by the original proposal.

“The modifications made to the plans in this reconsideration are also considered to clearly address the reasons for refusal set out in the Metro-Central JDAPs decision dated 18 June 2018,” City of South Perth planning officers said in their responsible authority report.

“Principally, the inclusion of a pocket park is considered to alleviate a number of concerns with respect to the eastern interface of the podium to No. 3 Bowman Street.

“The design of the development has been supported by the city’s Design Review Panel … and addresses the current, and future, planning framework in a satisfactory manner.”

Australian Securities and Investments Commission documents indicate NL Homes Melville has four directors, only one of which, Chin Ming Lim, is registered to an address in Western Australia.

The remaining three directors, Pearl Lee, Ke Lee and Sern Lee, are registered to addresses in Singapore.

NL Homes Melville is wholly owned by privately-owned Ace Investment Pte Ltd, which is registered to the same Singapore address as building firm Lian Soon Construction.

The company’s revised proposal will be assessed on November 20.