Applecross residents take fight against high-rise development to Supreme Court

Chris Young stands in front of the site of the proposed 21-dwelling apartment development.
Chris Young stands in front of the site of the proposed 21-dwelling apartment development.

A GROUP of Applecross residents will take their battle against a contentious high-rise development to the Supreme Court.

On January 31, a joint development assessment panel (JDAP) voted 4-1 to approve Yaran Property Group’s plans for a 21-dwelling apartment on Kishorn Road.

The decision follows Yaran’s appeal to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) of a September JDAP ruling rejecting the proposal on the basis it was not consistent with the objectives of the Canning Bridge Structure Plan, primarily because the plans were for a five-storey building.

The proposed development is located near the edge of the Canning Bridge Activity Centre where buildings are limited to a maximum of four storeys.

Both City of Melville and Yaran classify the contested fifth storey as a mezzanine and the validity of that designation will form the basis of the Supreme Court application.

Nearby residents, spearheaded by Chris Young who neighbours the proposed development, met at Liberal candidate for Bateman Dean Nalder’s electorate office on Tuesday evening to discuss an application to the Supreme Court for judicial review.

“Personally I am fully committed to fighting this building and there are at least seven other homeowners who made a verbal commitment to help fund the appeal,” Mr Young said.

“The development assessment panel thinks putting a five-story, 19m-high apartment building at the very edge of the Canning Bridge Activity Centre provides an adequate fall down into the surrounding suburb.

“That’s like standing on the edge of the Great Australian Bite and saying it’s an adequate fall down to the beach.

“This decision sets a precedent and opens the door to five-storey buildings in the heart of residential Applecross.

“Everyone in the surrounding area is gutted because we thought common sense would prevail but it hasn’t.”

Mr Young said nearby residents were concerned about the value of their homes plummeting because of neighbouring high-rise developments.

MDS Legal lawyer Fiona Stanton, acting on behalf of Mr and Mrs Young, said she had written to Yaran’s lawyers advising them of her clients’ intention to apply for judicial review of the JDAP decision approving the development.

When originally rejecting the proposed development in September, the JDAP panel considered a 2007 SAT case between Health Resorts of Australasia Pty Ltd and the WA Planning Commission.

In that case, then SAT deputy president Justice Chaney (now a Judge of the Supreme Court) held that entirely self-contained rooms placed above the ceiling height of a lower level – as is the case in Yaran’s proposal for Kishorn Road – did not meet the definition of “mezzanine” and instead constituted an additional storey.

The applicants will argue that the JDAP committed a jurisdictional error in approving the development because the panel did not have power to approve a five-story building.

Mr Nalder urged the City of Melville to adopt the draft State Planning Policy 7 principles for development, which take into consideration the existing built form of neighbouring properties.

“While I’m supportive of development, it must be in keeping with the local amenity and align with what is intended in the structure plan,” he said.

“The recent decision by JDAP, with City of Melville officer recommendation, to approve a 21-dwelling apartment in the transition zone of the Canning Bridge Activity Centre that is 19m tall with 20 car bays on a 1000sq m block is not in keeping with the local amenity and the 16m/four-storey restriction that was communicated to the community.”