Sorrento Plaza proposal ruling made by WAPC

Artist's impression of the Sorrento Plaza development.
Artist's impression of the Sorrento Plaza development.

APPLICANTS proposing to develop the Sorrento coastline will now consider their options after the WA Planning Commission (WAPC) made its decision.

The original $75 million Sorrento Plaza proposal, which City of Joondalup officers recommended for approval, was for apartments, restaurants and retail stores on West Coast Drive, ranging from three to six storeys.

Because the site bounded by West Coast Drive, The Plaza, Padbury Circle, Drakes Walk and Raleigh Road is made up of four separate landowners, a structure plan was needed to guide any redevelopment.

In March, the council considered the draft Sorrento Activity Centre Plan and voted to limit development to four storeys following community opposition.

At the time, developers said Sorrento Plaza would not go ahead if the council’s recommendation to cap the height at four storeys was approved by the WAPC, which has the final say.

Recently, the Department of Planning recommended the plan be approved as originally proposed with a maximum height of six storeys.

However, this week the WAPC agreed to limit development to four storeys with “a fifth storey element focused around the plaza and western frontage”.

Representing the applicants, Parcel Property general manager Danielle Davison said while they were pleased the WAPC recognised the need for the redevelopment, they were “very disappointed” with the decision to “impose arbitrary height restrictions”.

“The rejection and alternate recommendation for a smaller and less viable scheme may see this site remain in its current dilapidated state for many years to come,” she said.

“The syndicate is very surprised and disappointed that the WAPC has effectively ignored the recommendation of the Department of Planning officers as well as the original recommendation by the City of Joondalup technical officers.

“The WAPC has missed the opportunity to reinforce the government’s own policies that these key sites should be redeveloped to increase the density and create better, liveable communities in prominent and popular locations, in turn creating housing diversity and increased retail outcomes for the community.

“The syndicate owners have spent more than five years and a considerable amount of their own personal money trying to see the redevelopment of the plaza for the benefit of the Sorrento community.

“This decision effectively limits the financial viability for development of this site and as such, the owners will need to take time to reflect on the available options now before them.”

One of those options available is to appeal the decision to the State Administrative Tribunal.

Stop Sorrento High Rise spokesman Stuart Hawkins said concerned residents welcomed the decision in part.

“We now have two government bodies – the Joondalup council and WAPC – which have determined the developer’s proposal for six storeys at the Sorrento site is simply inappropriate,” he said.

“The Sorrento community’s push for a more appropriate planning outcome for this location over the past three years has once again been truly vindicated.”

However, he said while residents could “take some comfort from this decision”, he believed there were still “several poor planning outcomes”.

He criticised the decision to allow a fifth storey and raised privacy and overlooking concerns.

He said while the developer had the option to appeal, he thought they would be “be facing an uphill battle” with the Joondalup council and WAPC determining six storeys was inappropriate for the site.