TWO homes in Mt Lawley’s heritage protection area will be demolished to make way for a $5.75 million four-storey apartment and shops complex after a State planning panel overruled the City of Stirling.
Willing Property’s Tim and Veronique Willing recently revamped a cafe on the corner of Clifton Crescent and Central Avenue, opening The Deli on Central in December.
In September, they lodged plans with the City of Stirling for 15 apartments and five additional commercial tenancies on the deli site and neighbouring lot, less than 400m from Beaufort Street.
In describing the proposal to the Metro North-West Development Assessment Panel in a marathon three-hour meeting on February 7, Mr Willing said they had tried to create a place for people to meet and connect, along with a diverse range of homes aimed at owner-occupiers.
He presented an army of professionals speaking in favour of the project, along with several residents, including former Supreme Court judge Peter Martino.
Most of the presentations and discussion focused on the commercial aspect, with praise for retention of the deli shopfront and provision of local shops.
A social media post by The Deli in January said the plan needed community support or the café would “have to close”.
But several neighbours objected over the height and size of the development, increase in parking and traffic, and impact on the residential area.
Anthony Raymond, like fellow neighbours, supported development of the site if it did not negatively impact adjoining properties, saying he wanted to see a “vibrant and sustainable” development.
A report by City planning staff said the panel could not rule on the project because there was no approval for demolition of the existing buildings, and legal advice confirmed the panel did not have jurisdiction to grant it.
It said previous approvals were no longer valid and an application was required to be considered separately to “ensure that the demolition of buildings in the heritage protection area is considered on its merits and not in the context of a proposed redevelopment”.
The City objected to the project because it constituted “overdevelopment of the site”, would cause a “major parking problem”, was inconsistent with heritage protection area requirements and unsuitable for the location.
Stirling councillor and panel member Elizabeth Re said “everyone wants something built there” and wanted the developer to reach a compromise with the City and residents.
Cr David Boothman said he was confused why the proponent did not lodge the appropriate demolition application or build while it was valid, and did not support public parking bays being used by businesses to meet parking requirements.
But presiding member Karen Hyde believed the panel had discretion to approve it based on separate advice and was “obliged to make a decision”.
She commended the design and said it had been through a “very thorough assessment”, noting the number of consultants involved in the project.
Ms Hyde and fellow State planning representatives Sheryl Chaffer and Fred Zuideveld outvoted Crs Re and Boothman to approve the development, and the panel voted to grant demolition of the two houses.