Whitfords City on the way up

Whitford City Shopping Centre.       d443986
Whitford City Shopping Centre.       d443986

PLANS to upgrade Whitford City shopping centre and surrounding land have progressed.

City of Joondalup councillors this month unanimously voted to submit a Whitford activity centre structure plan to the WA Planning Commission for adoption.

It was advertised from June 11 to July 9 and the City wrote to all landowners in the structure plan area and within 400m of the plan boundary.

The City received 51 submissions – down from 514 when the first draft plan was advertised – with 30 objections, 14 in support and five from service authorities.

Planning and community development director Dale Page said objections included concerns with traffic and parking, building heights and density, the amount of retail floorspace, increased noise and the effect on the surrounding amenity.

Urbis planning associate director Kris Nolan, speaking on behalf of the applicant Scentre Group, said while there would be an increase in traffic, the plan included “significant road intersection and public transport infrastructure to accommodate increased private vehicle use and to promote public transport and other forms of active transport including cycling”, including space for a major bus stop in the centre, cycle lanes and shared paths and end of trip facilities.

He said the applicant had worked closely with the Department of Planning and the City staff on providing higher residential densities and building heights in appropriate locations.

He also responded to the suggestion from Kallaroo resident Rainer Repke for a pedestrian bridge across Whitfords Avenue.

“There are three sets of traffic lights along Whitfords Avenue in the structure plan area (at Marmion and Dampier avenues and Endeavour Road) and there’s a pedestrian underpass that provides for adequate and safe pedestrian movement north-south across Whitfords Avenue,” he said.

Some minor amendments were made in response to submissions received, including realigning the boundary of the education and civic district to incorporate St Mark’s Anglican Community School, which was initially part of the endeavour district.

Mr Nolan said this included a mandate for an east-west road between the school and Endeavour district to help “take some of the heat off key drop-off and pick-up times at the school”.

Ms Page said the structure plan was a product of “lengthy discussion and negotiation” and reflected a “more moderate and pragmatic approach to redeveloping an existing centre in an established residential area than the previous proposal did”.

Councillors in 2013 rejected a draft Whitford activity centre structure plan because of concerns about the proposed retail floor space having a negative effect on nearby commercial centres, its effect on traffic, transport and parking, and a lack of diverse uses in the area.

The applicant appealed to the State Administrative Tribunal and after 18 months of mediation between the City, Westfield and the Department of Planning, a new plan was developed.

The plan proposes a maximum retail floor space of 77,500sq m – as opposed to 95,000sq m in the previous plan – with a minimum 10 per cent of this in the Endeavour district.

It proposes road upgrades on Marmion Avenue at Whitfords and Banks avenues, development of Endeavour Road into a main street, redesign of the north of Banks Avenue, upgrading the bus stop on Whitfords Avenue near Dampier Avenue and a minimum of 40 residential dwellings in the endeavour district.

“This current structure plan will result in a positive improvement to the shopping centre and surrounding areas that will create vibrancy within the area that has been greatly needed for some time now,” Cr Christine Hamilton-Prime said.

During public statement time, resident Marilyn Zakrevsky noted the plan’s reference to public art being included where possible.

She said wall art in Perth “depicted a very dark perspective of this world or a fantasy world” and she would prefer “uplifting images”.

“We need to be careful our side streets and underpasses do not depict the ugly side of life,” she said.

“Commercial areas should be safe and attractive.

“I hope to never have to look at negative, ugly wall art when shopping at Whitfords or any other commercial areas in the City of Joondalup.”