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Perth councillors support 27-storey affordable housing tower despite planners’ objections

Perth councillors have voted in support of a 27-storey mixed-use development containing 30 percent social and affordable housing, despite a recommendation that the proposal be rejected due to an excessive plot ratio.

Designed by Klopper and Davis Architects, the proposed building at Lot 52, 195 Pier Street will contain 184 apartments, a café or restaurant, and a community shared space. The landowner and project developer is the state government’s Department of Communities, which intends to subdivide the site to create a 1,841-square-metre lot for the proposed development on the northern portion of the subject site with the remaining southern portion retained as a separate vacant lot for future development.

Council planners objected to the proposal on the grounds that development on the reduced lot area “would be contrary to the orderly and proper planning of the locality as it will exceed the prescribed maximum plot ratio for the development site, which would result in additional floor space (bulk and scale) that benefits the development without providing sufficient community benefits or facilities as required.”

Commissioner Andrew Hammond, moving that council support the development at the 30 April meeting, argued that the provision of social housing met the “community benefits” benchmark. It is proposed that 15 percent of the apartments would be for social housing and another 15 percent for affordable housing.

“The shortage of social housing is well known and well documented,” he said, pointing to the recently published Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot, which noted that more than 142,500 Australians are on the waiting list for social housing.

“Australia and WA have a significant problem in meeting social and affordable housing needs,” he said. “The city is currently experiencing many challenges with homelessness and rough sleeping, and while social housing is definitely not a quick fix for this difficult and pressing issue, it sits at both ends of the homelessness continuum.”

With this in mind, he said, for this development to be granted a plot ratio bonus would be “sensible and appropriate.”

Councillors voted in favour of his alternative motion to recommend approval for the development, on the condition that the developer completes landscaping work on the vacant southern portion of the site to reduce dust and enhance amenity.

The Western Australian Planning Commission is the body responsible for the final approval.

In terms of design, the applicant advised council that, “The design draws from its context in both form and spatial responses and creates a new built form typology which is timeless, beautiful and practical. We have focused on an honesty of building materials, space planning and servicing which is expressive, raw and elegant. The external simplicity of design will follow through into the internal spaces with an expressively beauty and honesty which is not currently provided by developer driven built form.”

The Design Advisory Committee said it was in support of the overall design concept and aesthetic quality of the development, noting that the layout of most apartments was “successful and of good quality.”

In a statement, Andrew Hammond said, “This development highlights the need for government and the private sector to work together in providing this type of mixed use development.

“We look forward to seeing this development come to fruition, and provide an affordable option for people to purchase their own home.”

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