Northbridge development reignites planning debate

THE long-running debate over planning has been reignited in Northbridge by a new development proposal.

A 66-unit residential development has been presented to EPRA to be located on the Arcus site, on the corner of Aberdeen and Palmerston streets, opposite the Post Office Night Club.

For the business’s owner, Bob Maher, this is a battle he’s already lost once in the city of Perth.

Mr Maher previously owned the Gobbles nightclub on Wellington Street, which was shut down following the development of Homeswest housing adjacent to the property.

The process of urban gentrification, particularly in parts of the inner city, has brought residential uses to the city area.

Mr Maher said the residential development threatened to erode the value of the property and stifle further development in the area.

He claims that, when he sold Gobbles Nightclub on Wellington Street, he had to discount the price by $500,000.

“EPRA and the council seem to have gone to a degree of trouble to make sure the purchasers are fully aware of possible issues,” Mr Maher said.

“The simple fact is that residents are moving in next to the nightclub industry.

“I’ve had talks with EPRA and they want to get it as right as they can but time is the only judge.”

Stakeholders in the city acknowledge that these developments inject life and vitality into these under-utilised areas.

However, inevitably there are pressure points, where the residential units sit in close proximity to entertainment areas.

According to councillors at the City of Perth, noise complaints usually follow this development mismatch.

City of Perth councillor Vincent Tan has called for an entertainment precinct-planning clause to ensure that inappropriate uses, such as residential developments, are not placed in close proximity to entertainment operations.

“Don’t get me wrong, I welcome residential activity in Northbridge,” Cr Tan said

“The question that I’d like answered is, what is the difference between bringing a tavern into a residential area and bringing residential into an entertainment area.

“I think EPRA is being quite irresponsible.

“I do know for a fact that all the nightclub owners are banding together to take action on this.”

Liquor Licensing director Hugh Highman said he had no jurisdiction over development in close proximity to licensed premises, however he did suggest local authorities needed to look very carefully at planning decisions.

“All I could say is I think it’s most important for local authorities to pay attention to the proximity of licensed premises when they look at residential approvals,” Mr Highman said.

Entertainment industry operators have mirrored the concerns of the councillors, saying the combination of residents and entertainment operations always led to conflict.

“Residents have strong rights to lodge complaints,” one industry source said.

These rights, as in the case of the Gobbles Nightclub, were used to shut down the business, thus ensuring residents a peaceful night’s sleep.

Australian Hotels Association executive director Bradley Woods said Liquor Licensing’s interpretation of the act meant a single complaint from a resident could lead to a venue being shut down.

“We’re putting together a proposal for the Government to seek first rights occupancy legislation and the purpose of this is to recognise who was in the community first,” he said.

“The proposal is for the new legislation to be built into the Liquor Licensing Act.

“Similar things have been done in Queensland and South Australia. In South Australia it was particularly important to protect the live entertainment venues.”

EPRA chief executive officer Tony Morgan said the authority had looked at a number of inner-city redevelopments, such as St Kilda in Melbourne, where residential developments and entertainment uses sat side by side.

“This is an opportunity for people to be entertained and to live and work in and around the area, much like St Kilda,” he said.

“We’ve looked at those other places and talked to the planning authorities behind them and we think we’ve taken it [planning] to the next level.

“The master plan was created two years ago and certainly at that time a central element of the concept was inner-city residential provided in close proximity to the entertainment area.

“What we’re doing is trying to provide adequate information so people understand what to expect of living in this environment.”

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said she didn’t need any convincing about the importance of getting the right mix of uses in Northbridge.

“I’ve got a long history of raising this issue,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“I came to this job with a heightened awareness of this as an issue.

“When we first got the subdivision proposal from EPRA we actually had a workshop where we got all the leading planners and architects to come and have some input.

“As a result we moved some of the residential [on the land over the tunnel] further back.

“The other way of dealing with the issue is to impose very high development standards for any development in the area.

“I’ve been very concerned with this [area] and these changes have risen out of my appreciation of the importance of this issue.”

Add your comment

BNIQ sponsored byECU School of Business and Law


6th-Australian Institute of Management WA20,000
7th-Murdoch University16,584
8th-South Regional TAFE10,549
9th-Central Regional TAFE10,000
10th-The University of Notre Dame Australia6,708
47 tertiary education & training providers ranked by total number of students in WA

Number of Employees

BNiQ Disclaimer