17/06/2021 - 15:30

$55m Waterford project given green light

17/06/2021 - 15:30

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The state’s peak planning body has given Perth-based property developer Exal Group the green light to build its $55 million student accommodation project in Waterford.

$55m Waterford project given green light
Waterford Purpose-Built Student Accommodation comprises three buildings, a communal kitchen, lounge, leisure and study spaces, three café/restaurants and a local shop. Image: DKO Architecture

The state’s peak planning body has given Perth-based property developer Exal Group the green light to build its $55 million Waterford Purpose-Built Student Accommodation, an eight-storey facility that will house more than 900 students.

Exal Group lodged an application with the state government’s State Development Assessment Unit (SDAU) to demolish nine residential dwellings to make way for a 913-bed accommodation facility designed by DKO Architecture.

Waterford Purpose-Built Student Accommodation comprises three buildings, a communal kitchen, lounge, leisure and study spaces, three café/restaurants and a local shop across a 9000-square-metre site adjacent to Canning College and Curtin University in Waterford.

The SDAU recommended the WA Planning Commission (WAPC) approve the development, but the City of South Perth pushed for it to be refused on the grounds that it did not meet the local planning scheme and was an ‘over-development’ of the site.

The developer had been in consultation with the City of South Perth since acquiring the site in 2015, but chose to use the expedited planning pathway after the City of South Perth varied the height limit in its planning scheme last year, making the maximum height seven storeys and the proposal inconsistent with design guidelines.

The WAPC must have due regard for the local government’s planning framework, but it retains the authority to vary provisions and provide approval.

Twenty-one submissions were received during the public consultation period, the majority of which objected to the proposal on the basis that there was limited on-site parking and the building height and density would not fit within what was predominantly a lower density area.

The objections also raised concerns about the impact of bringing more than 900 students to the site, including excessive noise and night time activities.

Existing student housing providers in the area also questioned the demand for student accommodation, particularly given the limitations on student immigration to Australia in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Canning College, which sits adjacent to the site, had advised it would be interested in accommodating students at the facility.

During the meeting this afternoon, the WAPC accepted the SDAU's recommendation to approve the plans, altering an amendment which would have required construction to begin within 12 months at the request of the developer.

That time has now been extended by six months.

The construction of the $55 million facility is expected to take place in three phases, the first of which will involve building 198 student rooms Exal hoped would be completed and occupied by 2023.

The proponent argued that the development was expected to have significant economic benefits, creating between 183 and 319 jobs during the construction phase and 40 ongoing jobs.

There are more than 1,380 beds spread across Curtin University’s affiliated student accommodation, which will increase to more than 2,000.

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