Gary Dempsey Development's contentious plan for an apartment building along Cottesloe's popular beachfront strip has been approved by the Western Australian Planning Commission.
Last week, the third iteration of plans was recommended for approval by the state government’s temporary streamlined development approvals process, the State Development Assessment Unit (SDAU).
Gary Dempsey Developments, along with lead designer Klopper & Davis Architects, were sent back to the drawing board twice, off the back of recommendations by the SDAU, as well as Town of Cottesloe and public submissions that cited concern over the proposed height, set back, bulk and scale.
The final, third concept proposes a 12-apartment, seven-storey building at 120 Marine Parade, reaching 24.9 metres at its tallest point, but 21.2 metres at level seven’s front façade – the highest point visible when standing along Marine Parade, due to the penthouse being set back.
This focus on 21.2 metres was crucial in today’s decision to approve the project, comparing this point of the building against the Town of Cottesloe’s local planning scheme guidelines of 21 metres.
Under the SDAU process the WAPC holds all decision-making power and is not bound by any planning or non-planning law (other than environmental considerations) when determining SDAU applications.
The WAPC must, however, still consider public submissions and be satisfied that the proposed development would be consistent with orderly and proper planning.
The Town of Cottesloe has previously spoken out in objection to the development, largely over height, bulk and scale, recommending the first two concepts (of nine and eight storeys) be recommended for refusal.
The third iteration of plans was not advertised for public comment.
The Town of Cottesloe was not consulted on the project’s latest plans prior to the SDAU’s recommendation, nor was it invited to provide comment, with the town's Deputy Mayor Lorraine Young expressing disappointment over that process earlier this week.
The SDAU defended its decision to not publicly advertise or conduct further community consultation over GDD’s third iteration of plans.
"All decision makers reserve the right to undertake further consultation on revised plans should those plans be substantially different to the original concept proposed, particularly in some cases on a case-by-case basis in relation to specific concerns raised by stakeholders," a Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage spokesperson told Business News earlier this week.
That reason was also given during the WAPC meeting, where it was said changes between the second concept and third concept weren't deemed substantially different, and that it responded to issues raised during round two of public consultation.
Unlike the Town of Cottesloe, the Heritage Council of WA was consulted on the third plans, prior to the SDAU’s recommendation.
In a statement released after the WAPC meeting, the planning body said it was provided with further advice from the Heritage Council to ensure expert heritage advice was obtained in relation to potential impacts on the Cottesloe Civic Centre and the Cottesloe Beachfront Precinct, both of which are state-registered heritage places.
"In approving the development, the commission noted the high quality of design which was commended by the State Design Review Panel," the statement said.
"Commissioners noted opposition from community members and the Town of Cottesloe to earlier nine and eight-storey versions of the development, including concerns about the proposed building height and potential to obscure views from and to the beach.
"Commissioners also noted that under the reviewed seven-storey plans, the façade was just 200mm higher than the height controls set under the Town of Cottesloe’s local planning scheme and would create minimal overshadowing of the beachfront, and minimal impacts on views from the Cottesloe Civic Centre.
"The commission received deputations during the meeting from the Cottesloe Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, applicant Gary Dempsey Developments and a representative on behalf of the Town of Cottesloe. Commissioners also sought clarification on a number of elements of the proposal before determining to approve the application."
Town of Cottesloe: Disappointed
Town of Cottesloe Deputy Mayor Lorraine Young said the decision was hugely disappointing for Cottesloe residents and for local government generally.
Ms Young said it was important the public understood that council was keen to see private investment along Marine Parade – it was about encouraging development that respected local planning parameters.
The height and set back parameters had been the outcomes of what Ms Young said had been a long and thorough planning strategy process, with extensive consultation undertaken with council, state agencies and the community, culminating in LPS3’s gazettal in 2014.
“Council is really keen to see investment in the private domain along Marine Parade – that’s not what this is about,” Ms Young told Business News.
“What we don’t have in Cottesloe anymore is a 'change-nothing' approach; we have a council that is really willing to see improvement, development, and investment but it has to be consistent.
“From an economic point of view, the value in Marine Parade is that coastal village character.
“Council wants to see investment but for the investment to work it has to respect the coastal village character and that means complying with the terms of the planning scheme.”
In response to an initially proposed nine-storey building, 960 public submissions were received: 62.8 per cent (603) objected to the proposal, 10.4 per cent (100) were in favour and 26.8 per cent were supportive of the development, subject to changes.
During round two, the revised plans for an eight-storey building received 486 public submissions: 60.1 per cent (292) objected to the proposed development, 21.4 per cent (104) were supportive with changes and 18.5 per cent (90) were in support of the proposal.
The SDAU was established by the state government mid-last year as a means to streamline the approvals process for developments considered significant and those that could stimulate economic activity in light of covid.
Eligible SDAU projects are judged via construction cost and job creation potential and must be “shovel-ready”.
GDD’s project meets the $20 million minimum threshold to be considered by the SDAU, with an estimated build cost of about $22.8 million, and an anticipated 44 full-time-equivalent direct and indirect jobs created during construction.
During today’s determination the WAPC also moved a motion to extend the construction delivery timeframe from 12 to 18 months.
Limestone excavation works on site during windy months was cited as one reason for this.
The SDAU has received more than 70 proposals since it was established mid-last year: all 12 development applications that have progressed to the determination stage have been approved.
To read more about the SDAU and its track record, check out the property section of the next Business News magazine edition, out Monday August 9.