Civic Heart centre of debate about certainty
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti should be commended for her leadership, carefully considering a range of factors before approving Finbar’s Civic Heart project in South Perth.
Contrary to some views, Minister Saffioti’s green light for the development – which has been on the drawing board for five years – was carefully considered, informed by frameworks, facts and the public interest.
I would encourage doubters to read her 46-page decision.
It weighs up feedback from stakeholders including the City of Perth, Finbar, the Metro Joint Development Assessment Panel, the Office of the Government Architect, and takes into account broader strategic and economic objectives, including certainty and jobs.
It is an important intervention because it highlights the long development hiatus in South Perth, which was, even in the 1950s, considered a perfect site for higher density to mirror CBD towers.
The City of South Perth is not the only local government to grapple with updating its planning scheme to allow for high-quality, well-designed density. But we know from our research that Perth residents want secure homes and safe streets, access to good transport, a great lifestyle connected to culture, community and sport, easy access to green space and a mix of more affordable housing. Each of these desirable attributes are a product of quality density.
That is why it is crucial local governments update planning schemes to preserve heritage, house and land neighbourhoods and create space for well-designed infill near transport and services.
To achieve that, Property Council WA members need efficient and consistent planning regimes.
That is why successive State Governments should be commended for their work on Design WA, which now mandates WA apartments meet minimum standards for sunlight, ventilation, size, layout, private open space and balconies.
Design WA is an important tool for restoring public confidence in high-quality, genuinely liveable and well-designed density and infill.
It is vital developers have clarity. They need to know that if they work with local government Design Review Panels to fine-tune designs to exceed benchmarks before seeking development approval, that their project will not be rejected because of design.
Unnecessary delays increase the price paid by homeowners because delays cost more.
Efficient, consistent planning regimes that deliver good design, certainty and jobs benefit everybody. For that South Perth residents – and all of WA – can be grateful.
Sandra Brewer is Property Council WA Executive Director