Should Cremorne Plaza or any high rise development be judged on storeys or height?

To better understand the likely reasons why the DAC have approved the building proposed at the Cremorne Plaza site we need to understand it could have been as high as it is without it being 7 storeys.

 

A 5 storey therefore, indeed a 4 storey development (all of which I suggest would have been accepted publically even if only begrudgingly) could still have been proposed at the height of the approved development. This could be if each storey or at least the ground floor retail space had higher (even significantly higher) floor to ceiling heights.

Those arguing that the development should have been only 5 storeys therefore have, I would suggest, a tenuous argument at best. I say that firmly believing that they would not have an argument if the height remained the same but less storeys were provided.

What this development did do however was increase the height of the development from what the development plan understood a 5 storey development would be, justifying the public concerns. But a height that was not governed by the number of storeys but by the space available to it by the envelope defined in our development plan.

The height of development on this site was governed therefore by the depth of the development site. The plan stipulates a 30 degree slope from a height of 3.0 m on the boundary bordering the adjacent zone, remembering that council was overridden during the development plan amendment a year ago on its proposed 2.0 m starting height.

This site being significantly deeper than that envisaged by the plan has enabled a height greater than anticipated and this I believe is the real issue for not only the approval but the disquiet among the community. The block depth is 76 m, well in excess of the (from memory) 50-60 m the development plan was based on.

This depth has allowed for greater heights than that envisaged by the plan. With the height available and low floor to ceiling heights the developer was able to get more storeys than the plan stipulates.

Cremorne Plaza Redevelopment gets Approval in spite of Community Opposition

A week ago now the State Government’s Development Assessment Commission approved the controversial development proposal for the Cremorne Plaza Site notwithstanding significant community opposition to the proposal.

 

Cremorne PlazaApproval was granted according to the minutes of the DAC meeting because the development was not SERIOUSLY at variance to the City of Unley Development Plan.

 

Many in our community will dispute this by focusing on the development being a 7 storey development in a 5 storey zone.

Some have argued during the debate before and after the approval was granted that it would not have been approved had Council been the approving body.

Whilst the development was approved by a state government body (DAC) rather than a council body (DAP) I wonder what the result would have been had it been determined by us. 7 stories on the face of it does seem particularly at variance with a zone calling for 5 storey. That is a 40% variance.

I ask though is the number of storeys a relevant parameter. If it had been a 5 storey development not many would have argued because it would have seemingly complied. That would be irrespective of how high the building which no-one has focused on during the debate on the development.

How many people would have spoken up had the building been the same height but 5 storeys. I will examine this further in a subseuent blog post.

On a positive note I understand the Developer and DAC did listen to Council and we saw some improvement in the number of carparks amongst other things.

Assuming the development does proceed then we will see in a few years time an increased population in Unley that can only be a good thing for those who serve the community, be it businesses with increased turnover and profits or community clubs with increased memberships.

 

Higher Density Development in Unley a no win for Council

In my mere 4 years on Council I have found it quite amazing how Council is perceived on a number of fronts, least of all the process of development plan amendment and the likelihood of multi storey buildings in the City of Unley.

Often I find we cannot win, no matter what the topic and whatever we do or don’t do.

For instance it does not seem that long ago that residents in my Ward  were complaining that Council were focusing their attention of achieving the governments push for Inner City higher density development in the poorer west of the City and leaving the middle alone. This of course was ill founded criticism in that we had already gone through the process for Unley Road, as evidenced by the recent Cremorne Plaza development application.

That application to DAC, for a 7 storey development, has now angered those living near it and once again we are accused of not consulting enough with our community. The development plan amendment for this area was in progress when I joined council in late 2010 and was signed off by the minister only late last year. During this time there was extensive consultation with a number of public forums.

We are told that we don’t care about those who will live near any such development.

I wonder how many of these people participated in the lengthy public consultation that occurred to get a plan that I believe worked for everyone as well as any we could have negotiated, notwithstanding I actually voted against it. If they had they may be aware that the Government was proposing 9 storey development along Unley Road.

They would also be aware that we got consensus for development from those in the community who did participate for between 3 and 5 storeys. And that was by involving our community and working with the government rather than focusing on arguing with them. They would also know the government relented on a number of key issues only at the last minute, maybe influenced by the then upcoming election.

Watch out for my next blog where I make similar observations about the process of dealing with the Cremorne Plaza development.

246-252 Unley Road – a followup on the 7 storey proposed development

I mentioned in my last blog post on this 246-252 Unley Road that this project presents many questions and challenges to many of us.

One question and challenge that this proposal highlights is that developers will often challenge the parameters set in a development plan and seek to exceed them where possible and on large projects this can test us all.

246 Unley Road

The first challenge is then to the Government and the Development Assessment Commission. As this is the first application under our new corridors development plan, the way the Commission handles this sets a precedence for future development applications. This advises developers what they can get away with.

It also advises the residents of this (and other inner city suburbs) what to expect under the Governments 30 year strategy for accommodating population growth. Residents will find out not only what the final built form of our City will take but how the development assessment process will work now that it has been taken away from councils.

On that score be aware that the Government is considering that all development assessment is to be taken away from councils. This will therefore also advise how the 2 storey application next door to you will be handled. Or even the carport or pergola proposed to be built on your boundary.

The developers on this project started with a 9 storey project I am told, which is surely in blatant disregard for our development plan. It was apparently a very dense development that had no regard for the neighbourhood it was planned to become part of. Thankfully the involvement of the Government Architect has seen it severely reduced, and have some regard for it’s neighbourhood. Having said that it is still a 7 storey development which is 40% more than was anticipated in the Corridors Development plan.

It has been achievable due to the depth of this parcel of land some 76m from memory compared to the 50m depth we believed existed with properties along Unley Road. They have therefore kept the development pretty much within the 30 degree envelope that we insisted be part of the plan, save for some minor incursions notwithstanding the extra 2 storeys. Obviously the deeper the parcel of land the greater the height that can be achieved and still keep within the envelope that is the development plan.

The developers will therefore argue they have complied with the intent of the plan. And, if they can secure the blocks of land immediately behind what then?

7 storey development a test case for Unley Road Corridor

 A 7 storey development proposed for 246-252 Unley Road has drawn the attention of many. First cab off the rank under the recently approved development plan amendment for Unley Road it tests the parameters that were agreed by the Unley residents, Council, DPTI and the Minister for Planning John Rau

 

246 Unley Road

 

It is also the first development in Unley valued over $ 3.0 m that will be assessed under the State Government’s revised planning regime by the Development Assessment Commission. It is a project that is 7 stories in a precinct earmarked fro a maximum of 5 so that raises the eyebrows of all and sundry.

This project presents many questions and challenges to many of us, least of all Council and the residents of this inner suburban council. First and foremost  is the question as to what precedence this project presents for future development on Unley Road. It also raises the question as to how the Government’s Development Assessment Commission will deal with the application.

Both these questions remain unanswered at this time.

It also raises the question as to what involvement and/or influence Council will have on this and subsequent development applications along Unley Road and/or Greenhill Road. Officially Council gets no input other than from independent member of our Development assessment panel that gets to sit on the Commission to review the application.

Having said that Council has received the courtesy of making a submission and we have. And council have.

Yes Council at it’s January meeting in a motion moved by myself indicated general support for the development but that requests the matters raised in report provided to this meeting of council be given further consideration as part of the assessment process.. That motion also authorized our Chief Executive Officer to negotiate appropriate outcomes with the developer in regard to public realm upgrade, zone boundary interface, car parking provision and encroachments.

This he has done and a copy of our submission to the Development assessment Commission can be found on the Unley website. It is a nine page document and I invite anyone who has concerns either about the project or about Council’s position to read it.

It is in my opinion an extensive and a responsible approach to influencing the final design.

Representing Local Gov’t on the Development Assessment Commission

In addition to my taking on the role of the Presiding Member of our section 41 committee, the Development, Strategy & Policy Committee my colleagues have again endorsed me as the Local Government representative on the Development Assessment Commission (DAC).

 

The Development Assessment Commissions is the State Government Planning Assessment Authority, the body that will assess major development applications in lieu of by (past practice) council Development Assessment Panels).

I responded to a Government request mid year last year to join this panel but my application. Whilst obtaining endorsement on that occasion from my Unley Council colleagues I did not receive LGA endorsement.

The government is calling for applications again and I can only assume that whoever received LGA endorsement last year may not have been re-elected in November. With luck maybe I will receive the blessing of the LGA this time round.

So while I have moved from an assessment role to a policy role in Council I may yet get an assessment role on major projects with the DAC.

It would be an honour to serve on this body and I now await the finality of the selection process to see if I am successful second time round.