We don’t need bonus heights

DAYLE KENNY is an Applecross resident and a member of the community reference group which was engaged by Melville council to review the Canning Bridge Activity Centre Plan. 

At the same time the City of Melville employed consultants Hatch Roberts Day to do their own review. As Mr Kenny writes in today’s THINKING ALLOWED, the two reports never the twain shall meet.

WHEN the WA Planning Commission, the state planning department, the City of Melville and the City of South Perth first went public with a Draft Canning Bridge Precinct Vision, in early 2010, there was a central “performance-based zone” with “heights/storeys subject to delivery of community benefits” in Applecross and Mt Pleasant. 

There was no storey or height limit in this zone. 

Over the next five years of community consultation the community were adamant that there should be a height limit in the central zone. During this time, in 2011, I received a personal letter from the then mayor Russell Aubrey assuring me that there would be no Manhattan skyline at Canning Bridge. 

How wrong was mayor Aubrey! Finally in 2016 the Canning Bridge Activity Centre Plan (CBACP) was approved by the WAPC with a central mixed-use zone, M15, “up to 15 Storeys” with “discretionary height concessions for community benefits”. 

In the M15 zone we now have five tower blocks approved, ranging from 20 to 30 storeys, three of which have been completed. 

The community is at a loss to see the benefits and where is the prerequisite exemplary design? 

The City of Melville and the Joint Development Assessment Panel have failed the community by approving developments with up to a 100 per cent discretionary increase in height for little or no community benefit and with very poor design. 

The community now has no confidence that the CBACP will deliver the attractive vibrant precinct promised during public consultation and in CBACP document. 

The current review of the Canning Bridge Activity Centre Plan by consultants Hatch Roberts Day has not addressed community concerns regarding discretionary increase in height. 

At an open public meeting on Thursday September 8 to discuss the draft review, HRD, when queried about height limits in the M15 zone, stated that there is no increase in height. 

What HRD did not explain to the public meeting was that the draft review proposes dividing the M15 zone in two new sections. 

One section has additional discretionary height up to 20 storeys and the other section has additional discretionary height up to 25 storeys. 

HRD did not mention this change to the meeting or have this information on the numerous display boards present. 

This information can be found on page 15 of the draft CBACP on the City of Melville’s web site, however, you need to search through this complicated document to find it. 


Should this change be accepted, then based on past history with discretionary height concessions, every building in the M15 zone will be either 20 storeys or 25 storeys with little community benefit and, if the past is anything to go by, a lack of quality design. 

A vibrant Canning Bridge Centre will be a community wish denied. 

Why was this information, which is of the highest importance to the community, hidden by HRD from the community meeting and is so difficult to find on the City of Melville’s web site? 

HRD did not complete a built form study as required by State Planning Policy 7.2 for a Precinct Design Review. Why did HRD not complete a built form study and assess the discretionary heights given with the corresponding community benefit? 

In response to questioning HRD have also said they know what the WAPC will and will not accept and have included this knowledge in the draft CBACP produced by their review. 

HRD and the City of Melville should be conducting the review in terms of the relevant legislation, the CBACP targets and goals and, most importantly, community concerns, not their perception of what the WAPC will or will not accept. 

The community-based Council Reference Group completed a built form study and modelled Canning Bridge development with no discretionary height, increased green open space and increased setbacks and found that the 2051 dwelling density target can be readily achieved. 

The community feedback to HRD regarding heights has been clear. 

HRD were asked by mayor George Gear to reflect community concerns. 

HRD have not been upfront and open in discussing changes to M15 height limits and they been less than thorough in determining that the proposed discretionary height increases are necessary to achieve CBACP targets. 

The CRG Report reflects the community’s views and deserves the community’s support. 

Editor’s note: We put Mr Kenny’s claim that the different heights weren’t raised at the meeting to Melville Council, with mayor George Gear responding: 

“The City of Melville engaged consultants Hatch RobertsDay to facilitate the Information Session on the draft Canning Bridge Activity Centre Plan (CBACP) on Thursday, 8 September 2022,” said Mayor Gear.

“The Information Session did provide an overview of the proposed height controls in the CBACP, and additionally Information Boards 

#6 and #8, which were on display throughout the session, detailed the proposed height controls and the proposed limits to bonus height in both the M10 and M15 areas. 

“All 9 Information Boards along with the draft Canning Bridge Activity Centre Plan and a report from community group, the Council Reference Group are also available to the public on the City’s website.

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