20/11/2015 - 10:08

Height limits rise for Guildford Hotel

20/11/2015 - 10:08


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Height limits rise for Guildford Hotel
An artist's impression of a restored Guildford Hotel, sans any apartment development.

Planning Minister John Day has moved to allow up to five storeys of apartments to be built at the Guildford Hotel, gazumping the City of Swan which had moved to impose a two-storey limit on the site earlier this year.

Mr Day today said the state government had made an amendment to the City of Swan’s local planning scheme to allow for the higher building, conditional on the upper two floors being set back to ensure the hotel’s historic belvedere remains a prominent aspect.

The Minister said the decision was made on the basis that a five-storey apartment building, in close proximity to Guildford Train Station, was consistent with state government planning guidelines to encourage infill development.

Any apartment development is also conditional on restoration of the hotel, which is under way, being completed before any construction can start.

The five-storey limit is a compromise on what Guildford Hotel co-owner Luke Martino had originally proposed.

In January, the City of Swan canvassed residents’ views on a seven storey development at the rear of the hotel, before imposing a two-storey limit at a special meeting of council in June.

Mr Martino told Business News earlier this year that the restoration of the hotel had been endangered by the height limit, saying a taller development, which would yield significantly more apartments, was an essential requirement.

Today, he still held that view, saying he would have to work with his consultants to determine if a five-storey apartment project would be economically viable.

"We’ll try and get it to work as best we can and look at the numbers, but it’s about viability and economic sensibility and return on capital out of the whole thing," Mr Martino told Business News.

 "(Five storeys) wasn’t viable before, but we are going to try and work through the detail now and see if we can get that to come to a feasibility that works.

"We were looking at 25 metres which was up to around 70 apartments, but I don’t know what this is going to yield."

Mr Day today said development plans produced by the owners of the hotel would be reviewed by an independent panel including the government architect and state and local government heritage specialists before being given any approval to proceed.

“The addition of the panel of expert architect and heritage specialists will provide another level of rigour to the design process,” Mr Day said.

“The panel’s advice will inform the final decision on any future development application for the site.”

City of Swan mayor Mick Wainwright said he expected Guildford residents to be disappointed by the Minister's move.

"The council made its decision in line with the Guildford Heritage Precinct Masterplan and in consultation with the community," Mr Wainwright said.

Mr Wainwright said it was the council's view that any development over two storeys would be detrimental to the heritage character and amenity of the Guildford town centre.

"The National Trust shared these sentiments, and in their submission to council said they felt that multiple storeys would not be appropriate in the centre of Guildford," he said.

"We are very concerned that this will set a precedent for developments over two storeys being built in the Guildford area, which is not in keeping with the heritage nature of the area."

The Guildford Hotel itself will be operated by hospitality firm The Publican Group, which reported good progress on the restoration earlier this month.

The Publican Group expects the restoration to be complete by early next year, with the hotel to utilise two storeys and feature a dedicated event space.

A spokesperson for the group said their goal remained to restore the building back to its former glory.

“Heritage restoration is complex work, and as such, the expected completion date has been revised to early 2016,” the spokesperson said.

The state government’s move to overrule the City of Swan on height limits is not without precedent, with taller height limits imposed in two prominent western suburbs last year.

In Subiaco, the state government approved changes to planning guidelines to allow up to 16 storeys to be built on the Pavilion Markets site on Rokeby Road, much to the chagrin of the local council.

The City of Subiaco believed an eight-storey height limit was more appropriate for the site.

Developer D2 Property was given approval to proceed on its plan to build 292 apartments and create a hospitality and retail precinct by the metropolitan west development assessment panel in February.

D2 Property was lauded for its commitment to the project earlier this month, winning a ‘Hard Won Victory’ prize at the Planning Institute of Australia’s annual WA awards.

In Cottesloe, Mr Day put to rest years of debate in July last year, when the Department of Planning moved to allow up to five storeys to be built along the beachfront on Marine Parade, as well as eight storeys and six storeys at the OBH and Il Lido sites, respectively.

Despite the new height limits in Cott, no developers have announced plans for any significant new buildings along the beachfront.




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