Woodside developer tries luck with fast-track unit

Hall & Prior’s initial plans for Woodside.

AGED care provider Hall & Prior has decided to test its redevelopment of the old Woodside Hospital site with the McGowan government’s fast-track assessment unit.

Just a month after premier Mark McGowan announced the Covid-era State Development Assessment Unit was going to be permanently enshrined to deal with “significant” proposals and given a 120-day deadline to process applications, Hall & Prior CEO Graeme Prior told residents near Woodside an application to the lower-level JDAP had been withdrawn.

“The proposed Woodside Care Precinct development will now be assessed and determined by the WA Planning Commission via that development approval pathway, rather than through the JDAP process,” Mr Prior wrote on March 30.

If the development had been knocked back by a JDAP, it would have precluded Hall & Prior from later submitting the proposal to the SDAU.

Mr Prior said the development had been significantly changed after feedback from the Town of East Fremantle and local residents, who’d forced an electors’ meeting to express their displeasure.

Mr Prior said second level rooms on the northern boundary would be setback to 10.1 metres and would no longer have balconies, which was in response to residents’ complaints they would be left with no privacy in the backyards.

Dining room windows facing north would also be glazed to 1.6 metres and evergreen trees planted to to improve privacy.

“On the southern boundary – there will be no car parking in the backyards of the two Supported Independent Living homes … with mature trees being kept and additional trees planted proposed,” Mr Prior said.

Hall & Prior had purchased the two neighbouring properties to the south after the residents decided it would be too hard living next to the additional density proposed. The precinct would ultimately house 160 people in 130 rooms and include a wellness centre with a hydrotherapy pool and medical services to serve people living in their own homes.

Mr Prior said an additional level of basement parking had been added to the main building, meaning street parking would no longer be required.

“We remain very committed to the Woodsite Care Precinct, which will be a world-class leading aged care home providing the highest quality of care to some of our most precious and vulnerable community members,” Mr Prior wrote.

He said the council had advised that the wellness centre wasn’t compliant with its town planning scheme, but the SDAU had additional powers and could approve it.

“Like the entire health and aged care sector and many, many ageing Australians and their families, we strongly believe that providing quality care and services that allow elderly residents to remain at home delivers proven health benefits,” he said.

Mr Prior said that under the SDAU process, residents would get another chance to have a say on the proposal.

Nearby resident Joanne Taggart, who’s delved deep into the state’s planning laws to keep abreast of what’s happening at Woodside, said she believes Hall & Prior’s decision to withdraw a JDAP application for the turbo-charged SDAU set a new precedent.


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