24/09/2019 - 15:36

Certainty drives Applecross plans

24/09/2019 - 15:36

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Canning Bridge is shaping up as Perth’s newest billion-dollar precinct, with a suite of new projects collectively worth $595 million adding to more than $400 million worth of development under construction or recently completed.

Certainty drives Applecross plans
Proximity to the city and the Swan River has proven to be a desirable attribute for Applecross apartments. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira.

A new wave of development is emerging in Applecross, eight years after the City of Melville released its vision for the revitalisation of the Canning Bridge precinct.

Canning Bridge is shaping up as Perth’s newest billion-dollar precinct, with a suite of new projects collectively worth $595 million adding to more than $400 million worth of development under construction or recently completed.

The vast wave of development has been in the works since 2011, when the City of Melville unveiled its vision to facilitate higher-density development, in line with the then-Liberal government’s strategy of pushing for more projects adjacent to transport links.

1 - Edge Visionary Living’s Canning Beach Road proposal

However, by the time the City of Melville’s ambitions were formalised in 2015, another riverside suburb was capturing the majority of developers’ interest.

Across the river, the City of South Perth was at the forefront of near-city development, after the council relaxed its planning guidelines to increase density and build the case for construction of a new train station.

In the years following the Western Australian Planning Commission’s approval of developer-friendly guidelines in South Perth in 2011, a pipeline of projects collectively worth more than $1.5 billion emerged, with developers descending on the suburb en masse to help realise its potential as a high-rise haven.

But while the City of South Perth’s efforts to increase its density initially placed it in front of Canning Bridge in the minds of developers, continued uncertainty over what could actually be built has muddied the waters.

2 - Mustera Property Group’s Forbes Residences

Changes to South Perth’s planning rules following residents’ opposition to the original plan has resulted in uncertainty over $445 million worth of developments, with developers shuttling between the local development assessment panel and the State Administrative Tribunal, and little progress being made in terms of construction.

Norup + Wilson director John Norup, whose company is currently building a $250 million project in Applecross in The Precinct on Canning, said the wave of projects had been made feasible by the City of Melville’s commitment to its planning changes, even in the face of community unrest.

“The planning rules are quite clear here, as compared to South Perth, as an example,” Mr Norup told Business News.

“In South Perth, developers have their developments approved and rejected and approved again because there is ambiguity.

“The Canning Bridge Activity Centre plan is quite clear; there are minority action groups and all that, but you can’t stop progress.”

3 - Developwise’s The Sanctuary

Norup + Wilson recently won approval for its Grandton Applecross project, a partnership with aged-care provider Grandton, which will ultimately be worth more than $100 million once complete.

Mr Norup said the developer had initially planned to create an apartment development at its Kintail Road site, but adjusted its plan to become an aged-care facility after it was knocked back by the Metropolitan Central joint development assessment panel on the basis that it did not provide enough community benefit to justify exceeding height limits on the site by six storeys.

“We had a previous plan as an apartment project, and during the approvals process we put that to the side because we were approached by Grandton to do an aged-care development,” Mr Norup said.

“We were actually working on another site for them, and then they found out that we actually owned that site in Applecross where the demographics of an ageing population ticked all the boxes.”

Mr Norup said the changed scope of the project was what got it over the line with planning authorities.

“If you’re going for additional height, you have to demonstrate that the community benefit that you provide will be commensurate with the bonus that you’re seeking,” he said.

“Our project was very clear, our whole building is in fact a community benefit, being aged care.”

4 - Norup + Wilson’s Grandton

Community benefit was also front of mind for Edge Visionary Living, which recently lodged a development application to build a three-tower, $350 million project on a prime riverfront site fronting Canning Beach Road.

Edge Visionary Living managing director Gavin Hawkins said the level of community benefit his company had proposed at Canning Beach Road was unmatched in any of the developer’s previous projects.

“The process we’ve been through, it’s been two and a half years in the design and community consultation process, so we haven’t taken it for granted, it’s not a quick process,” Mr Hawkins told Business News.

“What the City of Melville is doing better, and this is evolving, is making sure that developments provide significant and meaningful community benefit for additional height.

“They’ve put a lot of pressure on us to keep increasing the extent of our community benefits and we’ve never, ever offered up this much previously.

“They are getting harder, smarter and cleverer about this process.

“They are learning and the standards are increasing.”

Amenity proposed at Edge Visionary Living’s Canning Beach Road project, which has yet to be officially launched as it has not been assessed at the Metropolitan Central JDAP, includes a community hub to be managed by the City of Melville, an ageing-in-place facility to be operated by Amana Living, an upmarket health and day spa, medical suites and a hospitality precinct highlighted by a wine bar and a restaurant tenancy.

“At the moment, Canning Beach Road is not overly well planned,” Mr Hawkins said.

“There are large lots with single housing on it, so it’s a pretty inhospitable place for the community to go down and enjoy the river there.

“Through the community consultation that we’ve done, we are embedding a significant community benefit, which we don’t think has been matched in Perth.

“The whole ground floor is given over to the community, and we’ve set the building back so people can go down and have some food and a glass of wine on the river.”

Mr Hawkins said the commitment to amenity had already resonated with prospective purchasers, with around 10 per cent of the project’s first tower of 85 apartments already reserved for potential buyers.

“We have had already such significant demand where people have been coming in and actually redesigning their apartments with us, effectively cold-calling into us saying they’ve heard about it through the community consultation process,” he said.

“We have never seen that before, not even having a webpage up, no marketing material and not even having a name for the building.

“It’s just the uniqueness and rarity of the location that people are really keen on and enthusiastic about the development.

“That’s given us a fair bit of confidence to suggest that we will be starting construction by around the third quarter of next year.”

While Norup + Wilson and Edge Visionary Living have embraced the City of Melville’s commitment to providing community benefit, the concept has been a spanner in the works for ASX-listed developer Mustera Property Group.

Earlier this year, Mustera’s proposal to build a 20-storey, 98-apartment project on a Forbes Road site with a 10-level height limit was knocked back at JDAP, despite acknowledgement from the panel of experts that its design was acceptable.

Ultimately, the JDAP ruled that Mustera hadn’t provided enough community benefit to justify breaching the height limit, a decision the developer appealed at the SAT in March.

According to its most recent annual report lodged with the ASX, Mustera is developing alternative plans for the site and anticipates a mediated outcome at SAT later this year for its Forbes Residences, which was designed by international architectural agency WOHA.

Meanwhile, boutique group Developwise has experienced considerable interest in its $40 million Wren Street project, known as The Sanctuary.

Developwise managing director John Woon said marketing for the project started within the past month, with more than 25 per cent of the project pre-sold, and more than 1,000 people registered to attend its official launch at Crown Towers.

The Sanctuary will comprise 47 apartments tailored for local owner occupiers and downsizers.

“What we have done really well at The Sanctuary is we’ve had a clear vision,” Mr Woon told Business News.

“From day one, it was for local owner occupiers, it’s designed for them.

“We have put a great builder on board in the Zorzi Group, which everybody knows and knows that they are high quality, and then the price point, I’ve just managed as a developer to be more efficient to get the prices at a point where it is value for money.

“Local buyers do all their shopping and they look around – we have some buyers who have been looking for six years.

“The trick is always that balance between how you make a project that’s feasible, balance that community benefit and not overdevelop by going too high.”

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