09/08/2021 - 15:53

Council still not sold on Cottesloe apartments

09/08/2021 - 15:53

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The Town of Cottesloe is lobbying for tighter control over the significant development assessment pathway, following the approval of an apartment building last week.

The $22.8 million proposal for 120 Marine Parade was approved last week. Image: Klopper & Davis Architects

The Town of Cottesloe is lobbying for tighter control over the significant development assessment pathway, following the approval of an apartment building last week.

The State Development Assessment Unit was established mid-last year as a temporary planning measure to streamline shovel-ready development applications deemed significant enough to stimulate the economy.

Those developments are assessed by the Western Australian Planning Commission, rather than local government and joint development assessment panels.

On Thursday afternoon, the WAPC accepted the SDAU’s recommendation to approve Gary Dempsey Development’s (GDD) proposal for a seven-storey, 12-apartment building at 120 Marine Parade.

The $22.8 million project also plans to house a ground floor café/restaurant tenancy.

The developer, along with lead designer Klopper & Davis Architects, were sent back to the drawing board twice before the proposal was approved, each time shedding a level in response to feedback from public submissions and the Town of Cottesloe.

In response to Business News enquiries, a Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage spokesperson said all decision makers had the right to undertake (or not undertake) further consultation on revised plans, should those plans be substantially different to the original concept proposed.

“The whole process was really depressing to watch and be a part of,” Town of Cottesloe Deputy Mayor Lorraine Young told Business News.

“The new SDAU process effectively allows the WAPC to make decisions relating to local amenity, on the advice of bureaucrats.

“Without even basic regulations to provide some control on how WAPC wields it power under Part 17, the WAPC is a law unto itself, and doesn’t seem to have any oversight.

“We will be lobbying for tighter control over the SDAU and WAPC to be having a closer look at what applications are actually being considered.”

The Town of Cottesloe previously spoke in opposition of GDD’s initial and second proposal.  

The concept’s third iteration was not advertised for public comment, nor was the Town of Cottesloe invited to make comment prior to the SDAU’s recommendation.

At last week’s WAPC meeting the Town of Cottesloe engaged senior counsel to speak on behalf of council and to argue for rejection of or a deferral to allow council and the community to provide comments on the proposal.

The approved building proposal reaches 24.7 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.

The Town of Cottesloe’s local planning scheme provides guidelines for a maximum 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. 

Ms Young said the WAPC’s decision to approve the project had been disappointing in light of the time council had spent on what has been a long and thorough planning process culminating in the Town’s local planning scheme, gazetted in 2014.

“I’ll tell you why it’s a little depressing – because Cottesloe might traditionally have been given the impression of anti-development but that’s not the case anymore,” she said.

“We’ve got a council that is really progressive and welcoming investment and improvement.

“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.”

Ms Young also questioned the economic benefit consideration under the SDAU.

The WAPC has so far approved all 12 development applications that have been recommended by the SDAU, with many of those receiving recommendations of refusal or deferral from local governments due to non-compliance with local planning guidelines.

In some cases, local planning schemes were currently in the process of being reviewed.

Ms Young said the Town of Cottesloe was now considering what options it had in terms of having the WAPC’s decision reviewed.

The WAPC also moved a motion to extend the construction start time from 12 to 18 months.

As WA does not have third party appeal rights, there is no opportunity for the Town of Cottesloe to have the WAPC’s decision reviewed by the State Administrative Tribunal.

“We are looking into the process and to establish whether there is the basis for an appeal at law – like an administrative law appeal and we’re waiting for advice on that,” Ms Young said.

In a statement following the project’s determination, the WAPC said it 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.

The WAPC also said 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 that it would create minimal overshadowing of the beachfront, and minimal impacts on views from the Cottesloe Civic Centre.

Mr Dempsey said the team has listened to the community’s concerns and feedback and had taken them into account, and that the project had responded to that accordingly while still ensuring the design was befitting of its location.

Commenting on the SDAU process, Mr Dempsey previously told Business News it was certainly not a shortcut or a cheap option in terms of obtaining an approval, and that he believed it was generally fair and and equitable.

"The process is comprehensive and multilayered with the assessments and opinions of a broad range of interested and third parties taken into account as part of the approval or refusal process," he said. 

"From our own perspective, our project went through three rounds of significant design revisions, two rounds of extensive public advertising and assessment by a range of industry and affiliated experts, community members and others to ensure it underwent the same scrutiny (if not more) as it would through the local government process."

Read more about the SDAU process and track record in the recent Business News magazine edition, out today.

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