THE Town of Victoria Park has thought outside the circle in its efforts to find a manager for the Swan Portland site.
Hiring a team of external consultants to manage the site, adjacent to the Burswood International Resort, has enabled the council to handle the project in a timely and professional manner, according to Town of Victoria Park executive manager of planning and development services, Chris Eaton.
The decision to form a project team was also praised by the developer, Mirvac Fini, and cited as one of the reasons the project gained unanimous support.
“Once we became aware that the project was going to proceed we thought it would be appropriate to engage our own project team,” Mr Eaton said.
“It was because of the scale of the project and its complexity, and we wanted to respond to the matter in a timely fashion.
“The team included an engineer, a licensed valuer, a planning consultant, a geotechnical consultant and an environmental consultant.
“It was a case of engaging expertise that we didn’t have in-house.
“It proved to be a very successful model; and they worked well with the consultants working with the proponents.”
He said the council already had a design review group, comprised of eight independent consultants.
This group is called upon whenever there is a specific issue the council thinks needs outside expertise.
Several developers have been critical of local councils in the past year, with some claiming a lack of experience derails sound development applications.
The use of external consultants has been suggested as one way to alleviate this and associated problems.
“I don’t know any other council apart from South Perth that works on a similar system,” Mr Eaton said.
“It’s probably also the fact that we have been dealing with fairly large development proposals, particularly multi-storey developments.
“Burswood is really big by anyone’s reckoning.”
Major developments in other parts of Perth have been managed by government authorities, such as the East Perth Redevelopment Authority.
Mirvac Fini development director Evan Campbell said the development application presented a real challenge to the council.
“This is probably the largest application ever dealt with in WA,” he said.
“We appreciated the initiative the council showed in employing a project team.
“It’s fair to say it added value to our overall design.”
Mr Campbell said the council’s consultants really pushed them on certain important issues, such as connectivity.
“I must commend Chris Eaton’s team, they put in an enormous effort and we got a good result in the end,” he said.
“If you contrast it with the Raffles site, where there have been enormous problems, and yet we got 22 storeys approved. A lot of the large projects get dealt with by statutory government bodies – I was pretty proud that I was over all responsible for a project that went through a local council.”
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