Whitford City upgrade plan is food for thought

An artist’s impression of the ramp and stairs leading to the piazza.
Whitford City upgrade plan is food for thought
An artist’s impression of the ramp and stairs leading to the piazza.

UPGRADES to Whitford City shopping centre will focus on food and entertainment.

Speaking at the Metro North-West Joint Development Assessment Panel meeting on Thursday, Scentre Group state manager Brad Osborne said the $45 million proposal aimed to “deliver a much more encompassing offer, particularly in relation to food”.

“Retail is an ever-changing thing and food and dining precincts are an important aspect of retail centres in the current retail climate,” he said.

Scentre Group’s latest development application, which was conditionally approved at the meeting, replaces one approved last December.

It comprises three zones of development, with zone A proposing to convert a storeroom at the western end of the centre into a cafe with alfresco seating.

The main upgrade is zone B, which proposes a redevelopment of the outdoor piazza, unlike the December-approved application that proposed to replace the piazza with retail, including a relocated Coles supermarket. The piazza redevelopment proposes food and beverage, entertainment and commercial sites spanning a basement and two storeys.

“The role of the piazza in its historical sense has never really reached its full capability and is not representing a contemporary standard of retail offering or food and dining,” Mr Osborne said.

The basement would include a new ‘mini major’, which could be a gym, bowling alley or similar, as well as commercial office floor space, bicycle end-of-trip facilities with changerooms and showers and another 36 car bays.

Level one would be the new piazza cafe and restaurant precinct focused on alfresco dining with landscaping, children play areas, water elements and new stairs and ramp from Whitfords Avenue, while level two would include the expansion of the cinemas, extra food outlets and a retail ‘mini major’.

“The level one piazza cafe and restaurant precinct will provide opportunities for alfresco dining and temporary retail and entertainment activities such as an open-air cinema and market events,” a meeting document said.

Zone C proposes to expand the southern side of the centre near Coles to include a department store and other retail shops and more car parking in the basement.

An approval condition stated shade structures must be installed in the piazza.

Another condition stated the applicant was required to upgrade four turning lanes at the Marmion and Whitfords avenues intersection; southbound right turn and westbound, eastbound and northbound left turns.

These upgrades are additional to the Main Roads WA works planned for the intersection.

“It’s clear the development is going to add traffic to the intersection; it’s going to add traffic across the board,” Joondalup planning services manager John Corbellini said.

“These are the four turning movements the development will create problems for and will require an extension of the turning lane,” he said.

The development is not compliant in two areas.

Though a building setback of 9m is required to the Whitfords Avenue street boundary, a portion of the proposed stairs and ramp to the piazza is set back at 3m, however, the document said this was considered appropriate given the proposed landscaping.

Also, the building height should not exceed 20m but the north-east side of the piazza’s second level is proposed at 22m.

This section will be set back 11m from Whitfords Avenue and more than 40m from residential properties.

“It is considered the additional height is appropriate in this instance due to the considerable increase to community amenity that the proposed development will have in regards to entertainment, recreation, culture as well as additional visual character when viewing the frontage from the street,” the document said.

Another section exceeds the building height next to Whitfords Avenue where the building should be a maximum of 13.5m within 6m of the boundary but it is proposed at 14.3m.

It will be set back a minimum of 3m from the boundary.

A meeting document said the development would “significantly improve key facades of the shopping centre” and it aligned with “current retailer and consumer trends to enhance the existing centre offerings and shopping experience particularly in the area of food and beverage”.

It said it would revitalise the piazza “which is currently underperforming” and enhance pedestrian connectivity.