FOLLOWING a pair of controversial development approvals, the City of Melville will investigate adding a definition of the term “mezzanine” to the Canning Bridge Activity Centre Structure Plan (CBACP).
Melville councillors voted unanimously to direct City planning officers to consider the inclusion, which could help clear up confusion among the community around the issue.
Yaran Property Group has been given permission to construct two separate apartment blocks at 21 Kishorn and 8 Macrae Road, both of which fall into the H4 zone on the outskirts of the Canning Bridge Activity Centre (CBAC) where buildings are limited to a maximum of four storeys.
Some nearby residents believe the developer has skirted the height limit by including a mezzanine floor that should rightly be classified as a fifth-storey.
The Building Code of Australia states that a mezzanine cannot contain a space enclosed by a wall.
However, both Yaran Propery Group developments include plans for fully enclosed en-suite bathrooms on the mezzanine level, which also include bedrooms or games rooms overlooking the space below.
The combined height of the ground floor and mezzanine in both developments is 6.25m and 6.5m respectively, while each subsequent storey is around 3m.
Dayle Kenny, who lives next door to 8 Macrae Road and is part of a big group of residents currently weighing up a Supreme Court appeal, said he believed the City contravened the National Construction Code (NCC) in recommending the developments for approval.
He also said he did not believe the City had the authority to introduce its own definition of mezzanine specific to the CBAC.
“Other than the R-Codes, which apply to dwelling density, privacy and overshadowing, the CBACP states that all other legislation and regulation that pertains to the development of land shall apply to the Activity Centre area,” Mr Kenny said.
“This suggests to me that the City of Melville is not able to determine its own definition of a mezzanine within the current legislative and regulative framework, except as set out in the NCC.”
Melville acting chief executive Marten Tieleman said the City’s investigation would seek to provide additional clarity around building heights and in particular, what could be considered a mezzanine.
“It is important to note that the Building Code will continue to define what is and what is not a mezzanine, for the purpose of applying regulations relating to building construction standards and safety requirements,” he said.
“The City’s investigation will examine the merits of including mezzanine levels in developments and additionally the impact that mezzanines may have on building design, building bulk and height.
“It is noted that height controls in the CBAC refer to both storeys and an overall height in metres (four storeys and 16m in the H4 zones).
“Investigations will focus on what impact the inclusion of a mezzanine level may have, and particularly when a building’s overall height is within the identified limit.
“If mezzanine levels are determined to be acceptable, the introduction of a revised definition into the CBACP may be an option to provide additional clarity from a planning viewpoint, with the technical interpretations of the Building Code remaining unchanged.
“The mezzanine definition and its inclusion in the CBACP would require approval from the WA Planning Commission.”
IN September last year, a joint development panel (JDAP) rejected the 21 Kishorn Road development based largely on the fact they judged it to be a five-storey building.
That ruling was overturned on appeal in January, after both the City of Melville and a lawyer engaged by the developer provided advice to the State Administrate Tribunal stating the mezzanine in question should not be considered an additional storey.
Speaking at the time, Melville chief executive Shayne Silcox said the definition of mezzanine “is provided by the Building Code of Australia which states clearly that a mezzanine ‘means an intermediate floor within a room.’”
“In the development application for 21 Kishorn Road, the mezzanine level is wholly contained within a room with access to it taken solely from within that room,” Dr Silcox said.
“No part of the mezzanine extends beyond that room and the mezzanine is designed to be open to that room.
“On that basis the City determined in the Responsible Authority Report to the JDAP that the mezzanine level proposed in this development application does not constitute its own storey as it meets the definition of ‘an intermediate floor within a room.’”
The development application for 8 Macrae Road was subsequently approved by JDAP in March.
JDAP councillor also responsible for seeking definition
Melville councillor Nicole Foxton was one of the City representatives on JDAP for both contentious developments.
She was also the councillor responsible for moving the motion requesting an investigation into adding a definition of the term mezzanine into the Canning Bridge Activity Centre Plan.
“The Building Code of Australia describes a mezzanine as an intermediate floor within a room and the diagram provided shows that if a space is fully enclosed then it is a storey,” Cr Foxton said.
“But what happens when the space is partially enclosed and partially not, where does that fall?
“This is a big issue for many members of the community and I have had several phone calls from people wanting to know what council is doing about it.
“If a clearer definition is included it will reduce tension at JDAP and council meetings and remove the need for JDAP members to make their own determinations.”