Sort the wheat from the chaff 

LYNDON ROWE is an Applecross resident and a big hitter in government circles, having been the bloke appointed to head up Synergy, the WA Economic Regulation Authority and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry along the way, as well as sitting on the board of Perth Airport. But in this week’s Thinking Allowed he’s calling for people power, asking Melville residents to put their two cents’ worth in to help fix the Canning Bridge Precinct 

MELVILLE council is reviewing the Canning Bridge Activity Centre Plan.

It recently released two reports for public feedback; one a review with proposed changes by planning consultants Hatch RobertsDay (HRD draft plan) and the other by the volunteer Council Reference Group who were asked to provide feedback on the HRD draft Plan (CRG Report). 

Lots of reading for those wanting to fully understand what is being proposed – the HRD draft is over 100 pages, even the CRG Report is 30 pages. 

What’s the major differences between the reports? 

The current Canning Bridge Plan has failed the community.

It has failed to meet the precinct design objectives of State Planning Policy 7.2 (see pages 4-6 of the CRG Report). 

Everyone agrees on this. 

A key objective of the review is to restore community confidence and provide certainty in the planning process, to integrate the increased density in a way that makes Canning Bridge, as the gateway to Melville, something we can all be proud of. 

There are at least six important recommendations in the CRG Report that are not in the HRD draft Plan: 

1. Make the plan a statutory document. 

Currently the Canning Bridge Plan is a “due regard” document. This means that council planners and the decision makers have significant discretion in how the plan is interpreted (100 per cent height bonuses for meaningless community benefits anyone?) 

The CRG calls for the plan to be a statutory document which will increase certainty for the community and developers alike. 

2. Public Open Space. 

HRD and the CRG both emphasise that increased density needs to come with increased public open space – for lifestyle and community health. 

In a supporting document, HRD argues the Council needs to invest in the public realm including public open space, but there is nothing concrete in their draft plan to make that happen.

The CRG report calls for Council owned land both north (Moreau Mews/Kishorn Road) and south (13 The Esplanade/64 Kishorn Road) of Canning Highway to be rezoned into public open space – valuable investments by Council in the community (and increased rates).

3. No Bonus Heights

When the Canning Bridge Plan was first approved no-one imagined bonus heights of up to 100 per cent. Who would have thought“up to 15 storeys in M15” could mean 30 storeys? 

And where are those “exemplary” designs and marvellous “community benefits” that justify such large bonuses? Nowhere. 

Currently, there are no height limits. The HRD draft would introduce some limits – but they propose a new M15+ area that would allow a 66.7 per cent bonus – 25 storeys in an M15 zone. Why? 

The CRG report makes it clear the residential targets in the Canning Bridge Plan can be met with no bonus heights even if just 20 per cent of the potential development area is taken up. And please, no suggestion that bonus heights will lead to better developments – more Precincts and Sabinas anyone? 

4. Stranded assets and compensation

Many residents of Applecross and Mount Pleasant are not OK. 

As a result of what has been allowed to happen at Canning Bridge they are under significant stress, to the detriment of their mental and physical health, let alone financial stress (four storey concrete walls right on your boundary, deep excavations leading to sink holes and collapsed walls, loss of sunlight, builders’ rubbish and blocked off roads – I could go on). 

These issues are ignored in the HRD draft Plan. 

The CRG recommendations would reduce the risk of stranded assets and see developers required to compensate homeowners for the loss of amenity to their homes. 

5. Forbes Rd, Applecross

The HRD draft plan has recommended rezoning the west side of Forbes Road from H4 to H8 (and HRD did not mention this major change at their community open day). 

The east side of Forbes Road is currently zoned M10 and HRD suggest it would be a better gradual reduction to go from M10 on one side of the road to H8 on the other. 

The CRG Report recommends addressing this by changing the east side to H8. This beautiful heritage Jacaranda lined street deserves protection. 

6. Southern Boundary of the Plan 

Despite a Council resolution supporting a boundary shirt from property lines to roads, HRD have ignored those wishes. 

The current location of the boundary causes extreme overshadowing to homes immediately outside the Plan. The CRG recommendation is consistent with the Council resolution. 

Other CRG recommendations would protect tree canopy and improve green spaces, introduce strict design requirements (plot ratios, setbacks, bulk and scale) and improve traffic management. 

It is possible to increase density and at the same time create very desirable, pleasant and vibrant communities.

The existing Plan for Canning Bridge is not working and must change.

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