20/02/2008 - 22:00

Consultation urged on foreshore plan

20/02/2008 - 22:00

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Amid the voices of support for the state government’s recently announced plan to redevelop Perth’s foreshore, concerns remain about the delivery of the project.

Consultation urged on foreshore plan

Amid the voices of support for the state government’s recently announced plan to redevelop Perth’s foreshore, concerns remain about the delivery of the project.

Praise for the initial concept has come from the property development and architectural industries.

Property Council of Australia WA executive director Joe Lenzo said the government’s plan was bold, although early consultation between government and industry was critical to its success.

“For the foreshore development to work depends on two things. Firstly, the private sector will deliver the project, so engagement with the private sector is vital. Secondly, we need to be extremely mindful of the existing investment in buildings along the Esplanade,” he said.

In order to facilitate discussion between the stakeholders, Mr Lenzo suggested a development body, similar to the East Perth Redevelopment Authority, be established to deal with environmental, technical and leasehold issues.

“That may be the nexus we need to get everyone on board,” he said.

“Major developers are really keen about the project, but they’re nervous it may not fulfil its potential.”

One of the council’s key concerns is that, under the current plans, there is a risk the views from buildings such as Exchange Plaza could be obstructed.

Mr Lenzo said several of the construction projects being undertaken in the city could also be compromised.

“We’re not saying property owners have a right to views, but you have to bear in mind that the Esplanade was an A-class reserve when some of those buildings were built,” he said.

Royal Australian Institute of Architects WA chapter president Rod Mollett agreed that projects already committed to by developers needed some security.

“I think those buildings around the new cove or inlet should be relatively low so people at the back are protected,” he said.

“But that iconic structure at Barrack Square – there’s no reason to put a height limit on it.”

Mr Mollett said the boardwalk and pedestrian space connecting The Narrows and freeway interchange was a highlight of the plan.

“It does link the city and the river well. I’m really pleased the connection is so good,” he said.

“If it develops in a really piecemeal way, or develops slowly, that could be a problem, but I think the developers will be keen to push it along.”

Mr Mollett said the project would also provide a huge impetus to the local architecture and design industry.

However, he believed there needed to be a holistic approach to development, in order to incorporate the Northbridge Link project and the development of Murray Street.

“It would be a bit disappointing if we dropped the ball on the Northbridge Link,” Mr Mollett said.

Bill Hames, executive chairman of architecture firm Hames Sharley, echoed this sentiment.

“I think they’re both worthy projects; but if I had to do one first, I’d do the Northbridge city link,” he said. “Dragging the city and Northbridge together is a phenomenal opportunity.”

The big issue, Mr Hames said, would be ensuring the vision of the draft plans was realised.

“The buildings are quite iconic and that’s great, but we have to make sure that is delivered,” he said.

However, the concept of the development, including a circular shallow pool that represented Perth’s lakes, was to be commended.

“I think connecting William Street to the water is excellent, and something the city hasn’t had before,” Mr Hames said.

FORM executive director Lynda Dorrington agreed, praising the scale and aspiration of the plan.

“I think the extension of William Street and Barrack Street, and bringing the water up to the Esplanade, is very intelligent,” she told WA Business News.

However, Ms Dorrington said past projects along the foreshore, such as the Swan Bell Tower and convention centre, demonstrated the need to be ambitious.  

“All that would worry me is that WA, in our conservative nature, would say the buildings should only be 30 storeys high, or that we should just do either of William or Barrack. We cannot build to a budget on this one,” she said.

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