24/10/2019 - 16:02

Minister weighing South Perth planning intervention

24/10/2019 - 16:02

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Planning Minister Rita Saffioti says the state government is assessing whether it needs to intervene following the rejection of Finbar Group’s $365 million Civic Heart proposal in South Perth by planning authorities.

Minister weighing South Perth planning intervention
Rita Saffioti says she was surprised that Finbar Group's Civic Heart proposal was not approved. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti says the state government is assessing whether it needs to intervene following the rejection of Finbar Group’s $365 million Civic Heart proposal in South Perth by planning authorities.

Business News reported last week that Finbar, Western Australia’s biggest apartments developer, was preparing to appeal the Metropolitan Central Joint Development Assessment Panel’s rejection of Civic Heart at the State Administrative Tribunal.

Finbar managing director Darren Pateman said the company was particularly disappointed that the City of South Perth’s Design Review Panel signed off on the project, only to have it rejected at JDAP following an Office of the State Government Architect assessment that its design lacked the “memorability and distinctiveness” required for the prominent South Perth site.

An architect's rendering of Finbar's Civic Heart proposal. Image: Finbar Group.

Ms Saffioti told Business News this week that the Civic Heart rejection by JDAP was a live issue being considered by the state government.

Design Review Panels are a key feature of the state government’s Design WA initiative, which was unveiled earlier this year and has been designed to introduce more clarity and consistency in the planning process.

“There are two key issues in front of us - whether the state government or I as planning minister intervene, and the second is the relationship between the Office of the Government Architect and the Design Review Panel in this instance, and we are getting some further work done on that,” Ms Saffioti said.

“We are looking at in particular where councils have Design Review Panels and they are operating effectively, whether there needs to be another layer. 

“I don’t think that should be the case and that’s what we’re looking at.”

Ms Saffioti said she was surprised that Finbar’s proposal had been rejected.

“We need to support development,” she said.

“This was a development that has been talked about for several years, I was surprised by the decision and we are looking into it right at the moment and will be able to make some further announcements about what we can do about it in the next week or so.”

Civic Heart is the fifth major mixed-use or apartments project being sent to SAT in South Perth, with developers such as Edge Visionary Living, Sirona Capital and Zone Q Investments stymied by continued uncertainty over what can be built in the suburb.

Height limits in South Perth were relaxed in 2012 to entice developers to build the density required to build a train station in the suburb, but the local council has attempted to roll back those planning changes following a wave of projects of a scale that the council of the time had not anticipated.

Ms Saffioti said consultation between the City of South Perth and the Western Australian Planning Commission was ongoing in regards to planning guidelines.

“South Perth has been in the process of changing its local planning scheme for a while and we look forward to working with South Perth over coming months in finalising the scheme and the activity centre plan,” she said.

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