The state government has used its beefedup planning powers for the 10th time in less than three years in a bid to end a long-running impasse over the future of the derelict Subiaco Pavilion property.
In a sign of the increasingly fractious relationship between the state government and a number of local councils, Planning Minister John Day ordered the City of Subiaco to advertise an amendment to its town planning scheme, which would allow for up to 16 storeys on a large plot that encompasses the markets site as well as a number of adjacent commercial lots.
It’s the first time the City of Subiaco has been subject to this type of order, which the Barnett government has used on 10 occasions since they were formalised in late 2010.
In the City of Joondalup, orders were made to smooth the way for Westfield to significantly expand its development at Whitfords Shopping Centre.
The cities of Mandurah, South Perth and Stirling, the Town of Claremont and the Shire of Exmouth have also been subject to the new orders.
The government has also taken steps to end decades of bickering over the future of two of Perth’s most popular beaches by forcing increases to the height allowance along Marine Parade in Cottesloe and giving the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority a controlling stake in the $30 million upgrade of Scarborough Beach.
The Subiaco Pavilion site has been boarded up since 2007 and is a source of increasing angst among local traders, who claim Subiaco has failed to keep pace with the new retail experiences on offer in the city and Claremont.
Mr Day has taken almost two years to act on the pavilion site but last week said the development of the site and surrounding properties was consistent with the state’s policy to promote greater density developments close to public transport and other services.
“I consider I have a responsibility to act when a prima face case for change, which appears to be in accordance with the state’s planning policies and needs, is made,” Mr Day said.
“The Subiaco Pavilion site is located immediately adjacent to the Subiaco train station, is close to the city and has been underutilised for a number of years.
“Based on this and other considerations, I am keen to hear the public’s view on the proposal.”
The would-be Subiaco Pavilion developer, Sydney-based D2, lodged an application for an amendment to Subiaco’s town planning scheme to allow for its plans for an apartment tower, retail and short-stay accommodation on the site, nearly two years ago.
This was rejected on the grounds that 19 storeys was too high and in deference to these concerns the minister has reduced the maximum height across the plot from 19 to 16 storeys.
However, Mr Day has expanded the reach of the amendment to cover a parcel of land bounded by Rokeby Road, Hay Street, Catherine Street and Roberts Road.
Subiaco Mayor Heather Henderson was measured in her response to the state government order, but indicated the council was ready to fight to protect what she referred to as the “rhythm and scale of Subiaco’s existing streetscape”.
“The council made its position clear in rejecting an initial 19-storey amendment proposal that was submitted by the developers to the council for the Pavilion Market site,” Ms Henderson said.
“It is now up to the community to have their say and provide feedback on the latest scheme amendment proposal.”
Developer D2 said the challenges facing Subiaco’s town centre were well documented and the pavilion site represented an opportunity to provide new public spaces as well as a wide range of shopping and leisure facilities that would “inject more street life into the town centre” to the benefit of all existing businesses, residents and visitors.