The following is a letter we sent to the West Australian asking for the general public to be able to read the other side to the article which appeared in the Property section on 1st Feb 2017 "Finbar ducks South Perth Ire"
Finbar’s ‘Civic Heart’ in South Perth has been on the books for 2 years and just hours before a recent Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) meeting, they withdrew their request for a 12 month extension of time, to start construction.
Clearly, the most obvious reason is lack of sales with only 50% sold and many of those are probably in jeopardy, due to the new restrictions on moving money from China. But market conditions are not an “allowed reason” for an extension, so they cited technical issues.
Where then have all those significant technical issues suddenly gone? Perhaps they didn’t want public scrutiny given the recent flooding problems.
Since the local planning scheme has changed substantially since the original approval in May 2015, South Perth Council subsequently withdrew its support for approval. Amendment 46 from the WAPC and recently approved by Minister Faragher raises the performance criteria required and increases setbacks amongst other items.
Understandably residents in South Perth are extremely concerned about the stability of the area after seeing the pavement and road recently subsiding. Independent experts need to assure the community that this silt peninsula is suitable for this style of high rise construction given the problems Finbar’s builder Gerry Hanssen has had with the excavation of Aurelia’s five levels of basements on the opposite side of Mill Point Rd and the vast quantities of excess water being pumped to the Civic Heart site opposite.
One nearby property at #100 Mill Point Rd, has had to have ground water continuously pumped from its basement for more than 2 weeks now.
The South Perth community were looking forward to an iconic building on this site, one that would bring new retail and entertainment and a sustainable amount of apartments. But with this level of high rise also come significant problems, not the least are poor sales, delayed construction, unacceptable traffic problems and now a rise in the water table, apparently due to the way waste water is being disposed.
It has been proven that JDAP’s original approval of Civic Heart was incorrect making this proposal non-compliant along with 5 others in the area. DAPs are not accountable for their wrong decisions. They are unelected, unrepresentative, and untouchable and the whole of Perth is suffering with poor planning decisions. Even Main Roads made a very strong recommendation for refusal at the original review of Civic Heart, but disgracefully their professional opinion was ignored.
Developers are taking advantage of a weak, outdated government and an ineffective, old fashioned planning philosophy. Other states have overhauled their DAPs to make them independent of their own industry and in some states if there are changes to a local planning scheme all developments not started are required to be reassessed.
The Office of the Government Architect commented that South Perth deserves better than what has been proposed. Finbar should be forced back to the drawing board to make significant improvements for what should be the iconic centerpiece of a world class location.
We want a Civic Heart, but it needs to be something that does not kill off South Perth’s livability and character.