South Perth chaos continues

The West Australian

16th January 2019.

The WA Planning Commission and City of South Perth are working overtime behind the scenes to avoid an ugly public confrontation over the planning stalemate on the South Perth peninsula.

The City of South Perth last year controversially voted to defer voting on its long-awaited activity centre plan.

The delay, on October 31, has been criticised by developer Sirona Capital, stung by the December 5 rejection of its application to develop a 42-storey apartment tower opposite the Perth Zoo.

Sirona Capital’s Matthew McNeilly has accused the council of creating uncertainty for residents and developers.

Metro Central JDAP’s presiding member Megan Adair said Sirona’s tower was an “elegant design” on “an excellent development site” but she was forced to reject it in the absence of specific guidance on South Perth’s planning policy.

City of South Perth mayor Sue Doherty said then the rejection was “a good outcome”.

Mr McNeilly said the South Perth peninsula was a State asset that should be developed carefully and sustainably using a “sound” planning framework.

He urged the WAPC to intervene to ensure the City of South Perth got its “planning house in order”. A week before Christmas, WA Planning Commission chairman David Caddy accepted an invitation to a City of South Perth councillors’ workshop where he suggested the council advertise its activity centre plan by the end of January, instead of its revised April-May date.

Ms Doherty yesterday reiterated that “the end of January is not achievable” but said the draft activity centre plan and scheme would be resubmitted to council early in the new year.

“The place that we are planning for is exceptional and unique…  with a stunning natural setting and unrivalled central location,” Ms Doherty said, adding that the council wanted the best outcomes for the “city, council, community and stakeholders that is in line with” WAPC planning guidelines.

Yesterday Mr Caddy said the City of South Perth was expected to advertise in early March, “rather than early May as was originally proposed”.

Sirona Capital has lodged an appeal against the JDAP ruling and a directions hearing is expected this month.

The Metro Central JDAP knocked back the $110 million tower opposite the Perth Zoo because it was too tall.

There is no height limit for the area under the current planning scheme and no specific guidance about how the panel should apply its discretion on height.

Conflict about development on the peninsula has resulted in only a handful of the residential towers approved three years ago getting built.