23/04/2008 - 22:00

Foreshore proposal hits first hurdle

23/04/2008 - 22:00

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The state government’s development of the Perth foreshore has hit its first major stumbling block, with the City of Perth’s planning committee overruling its administration to reject key elements of the foreshore plan.

Foreshore proposal hits first hurdle

The state government’s development of the Perth foreshore has hit its first major stumbling block, with the City of Perth’s planning committee overruling its administration to reject key elements of the foreshore plan. 

Council voted on Tuesday night to accept the planning committee’s report, which supports the foreshore development in principle but outlines 17 areas of concern with LandCorp’s proposal.

In its assessment of the development, the planning committee – which includes councillors Chris Hardy, Judy McEvoy and Rob Butler –  was critical of building heights and location, in particular. 

However, its report was a substantially reworked version of the original document put together by the city’s own planning department.

The committee removed the recommendation that council should ‘generally support’ the project, instead saying it would be ‘considered’ subject to a number of issues being addressed.

These included preserving most of the Esplanade Reserve area for public open space, and acknowledging St Georges Terrace and Adelaide Terrace as the current and future location for the city’s tallest buildings.

It also said the ‘excessively large’ building pegged for Barrack Square should be rejected, to preserve the ‘status and presence of the world recognised Perth Bell Tower’.

Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said that while the planning committee was within its rights to amend the report, she did not agree with its position.

“I am supportive of the [state government’s] vision, whereas the planning committee is not as supportive,” she said.

Ms Scaffidi said it was important not to get caught up in the detail of the architectural form and scale of the plan, because it was a concept design.

However, she said the committee’s opposition to tall buildings, particularly on the north-east and southeast corners of the site, was misguided.

“If you have low rise buildings you’re not going to deliver that critical mass of people on a 24-hour basis,” she said. 

Ms Scaffidi also said she opposed the idea that St Georges Terrace should be the main axis of high rise development in Perth.

“I don’t support that because I think we would be creating a two dimensional city. We need to have a cross-axis of development,” she said.

“Perth is starting to look like an overgrown town, with a main street the only place where high rise development is.”

Ms Scaffidi said the argument that green space would be lost was also inaccurate, with LandCorp figures showing only 2.8 hectares of the 137ha of public green space currently available would be lost, to be compensated for by an extra 2.4ha of usable space being created.

However, councillor Rob Butler said the planning committee was being responsible in its submission.

“Our alternative recommendation is certainly not stopping the foreshore development,” he said.

Mr Butler said one of his main concerns was the plan to build two 50-storey buildings, flanked by 10-storey buildings on either side.

“That’s a lot of buildings in that area and I don’t believe that’s orderly planning,” he said.

Mr Butler said elements of the design, particularly along the waterfront, were too similar to projects elsewhere.

“I quite frankly would like to see something uniquely Perth, but maybe that’s us being provocative,” he said.

“I also don’t agree with covering up the front of the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre.”

Meanwhile, the Committee for Perth has surveyed its 25 corporate members on the foreshore plan.

The organisation’s chief executive officer Marion Fulker said vested interests were influencing the debate, particularly over view corridors and the height of buildings, and that people needed to be reminded of the way the bell tower project had under-delivered. 

“People are just getting bogged down in the detail and are failing to realise it is a bold vision for what needs to happen on the foreshore,” she said.

 

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