Perth shopping centre's $80m facelift faces delay, despite move to fast-track major builds

Jun 03, 2020

By Emma Young

An $80 million redevelopment application to turn Kardinya Park shopping centre into a major commercial and residential hub could be subject to long delays, despite recent government moves to fast-track all high-value developments to kickstart WA’s recovery.

Kardinya Park’s biggest offering for three decades has been a Coles and a Kmart but the proposal is to transform it into a “town centre” complete with cinema, 12-storey apartment block, public plaza and dining precinct, 50 per cent more retail space, multi-level car park, healthcare tenancies and a mechanic.

Plans for the prominent corner of North Lake Road and South Street: the council's design review panel says putting a mechanic on this spot is a "wasted opportunity" to activate the street.

Plans for the prominent corner of North Lake Road and South Street: the council's design review panel says putting a mechanic on this spot is a "wasted opportunity" to activate the street. CREDIT:HAMES SHIRLEY

To facilitate the height and density increase required to include the apartment block, as well as the development application for the central site, the developer was supposed to submit an activity centre plan for the wider area.

This would provide a framework to rezone the residential streets within a 400-metre radius, bringing the potential for apartments and townhouses to be built within the leafy, sprawling older suburb.

The developer had flagged delivering the draft activity centre plan in January, starting building in June and finishing the build next July, but only ended up submitting the planning document a fortnight ago.

So instead of recommending the joint development assessment panel approve or reject the development application, due for consideration at its June 8 meeting, the City of Melville has recommended the panel defer until the activity centre plan is endorsed.

This is a fortnight after the government announced it would fast-track all development applications worth more than $30 million, given the state's dire economic situation.

State planning policy states ACPs should be endorsed before major developments are approved unless “exceptional circumstances” are demonstrated.

Activity centre plans, which can be government-led or, as in this case, developer-led, take time: for the council to assess, advertise for community consultation, assess community feedback, potentially ask for modifications, and so on.

The contentious activity centre plan for South Perth is still awaiting finalisation a year after the council first advertised it for public comment, a year that included the Planning Minister stepping in to force the process forward.

The Kardinya development proposal that the plan centres around is not uncontroversial: the council received 121 submissions in support, saying the centre needed an upgrade, and this one looked nice and had good amenities and dining options.

But it also received 70 objections saying the development was unnecessary and bulky and would cause traffic, parking and antisocial behaviour problems. They highlighted the lack of planning controls. A further 163 signed a petition objecting to the height of the apartment building.

The car park levels are a major bone of contention for the council.

The car park levels are a major bone of contention for the council. CREDIT:HAMES SHIRLEY

Melville council’s design review panel also doesn’t support the park centre design, with three critical issues outstanding: absent planning controls, the bare “un-wrapped” look of two above-ground car park levels, and a lack of attention given to activating South Street with through design and ground-floor tenancies.

The state planning department advised the council Morley Galleria and Karrinyup Shopping Centre redevelopments were determined in the absence of ACPs “under circumstances that may reasonably be considered exceptional” but the council did not consider these examples comparable.

And while a broader-brush planning framework exists for the Murdoch hospital and university precinct, officers said this lacked the necessary level of detail for Kardinya, considered the “suburban frame”.

They said deferral would provide a policy framework against which the development could be accurately and appropriately assessed.

WAtoday asked Planning Minister Rita Saffioti whether she considered this a project that could help the state's economic recovery, whether the pandemic counted as "exceptional circumstances" and whether she was considering stepping in to either fast-track the application without an activity centre plan, or alternatively, take over the planning process.

Ms Saffioti said the purpose of the planning reform legislation currently before the Upper House was to fast-track major developments that would create jobs and stimulate economic development.

“It would be premature to pre-empt decisions for upcoming major projects," she said.

“I am not across the particulars of this project but will seek to be briefed on the proposal in coming weeks.”

Murdoch centre planning framework showing Kardinya as the urban "frame", requiring its own district-level planning.

Murdoch centre planning framework showing Kardinya as the urban "frame", requiring its own district-level planning.

The post about “Perth shopping centre's $80m facelift faces delay, despite move to fast-track major builds" first appeared on the WA Today website.

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