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24 November 2021

Balanced views are the goal

Opinion piece by UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck published in The West Australian

The proposed beachfront apartments in Cottesloe will give more people a chance to live at the iconic location, writes Tanya Steinbeck

A dog’s dinner. Atrocious. All we need is a lick of paint and a little wisteria.

These highly emotive descriptors are just a few examples of the labels used to fire up the local Cottesloe community about activating and creating well designed housing and amenity on the beachfront of one of the most popular beaches in Perth.

Shock and dismay abound as fears of a “Cott Vegas” strike the western suburbs yet again. Of course, no one wants Vegas, but what we do want is opportunities for a range of people to live in these areas.

The $185 million proposal is for a 10-floor tower and two 12-storey towers — which exceed the height limit by 6m — including 120 hotel rooms and 200 apartments.

I’m intensely curious as to what is considered an acceptable development outcome in this context, other than not redeveloping the beachfront at all and placing all of that “infill” type housing along the train line.

Transit oriented development is entirely appropriate and sensible, as is wanting more housing options in a range of locations, including to add amenity and vibrancy to the coastal charm of the beachfront strip.

The infill and density debate rages a lot more in certain areas of Perth than others. Demographically, it is also the older generation most concerned about the future development of parts of our city than the younger generation who will be the ones ultimately living with the outcome of decisions made in the next few years.

We need to ensure that we are delivering quality housing choices in a range of areas to suit a range of people’s needs. That takes collaboration and a planning system that can support good development outcomes. It also takes balance and compromise.

There have been less-than-desirable outcomes in some areas over the years, particularly when it comes to infill development.

What we are seeing now though, are projects that are going through rigorous design review and community engagement processes to ensure we get a quality outcome on the ground, yet there is still strong resistance.

The role of Development Assessment Panels and the balance they can bring to decision-making should not be underestimated when we consider achieving quality outcomes in the right areas.

Likewise, the State Development Assessment Unit is aiming to deliver quality outcomes for Perth as eligible projects navigate a rigorous process that is focused on getting projects off the ground that are in the public interest.

Not just in the interest of a vocal few.