Clash over extension plans

Portrait of bride and groom by church
Portrait of bride and groom by church

Westfield first proposed an expansion of the Hillarys’ shopping centre in 2011, which would have allowed it to double the size of the centre to about 90,000sqm of retail space.

Under the State Government’s activity centres policy, introduced in the same year, any expansion of a shopping centre above 20,000sqm requires a structure plan for the area, which includes housing density and land use targets.

Westfield’s original structure plan proposed higher density housing along Endeavour Road, including buildings up to 15-storeys in its centre and new roads for the area.

At the time, Joondalup Council declined to send the plan out for public comment, citing concerns about Hillarys’ residents’ amenity and the scale of the proposal.

A revised structure plan, which covers a smaller area and would allow for less dense housing and a maximum building height of about 10 storeys, has been lodged with the city.

Joondalup Council will decide at its meeting next week if it will advertise the modified proposal for public comment.

Westfield state manager Brad Osborne said the centre needed to be updated to make it more attractive for shoppers and compete with online retailing.

‘This is not just about expansion but also a repositioning of the centre to better reflect the demographics of the area,’ he told the briefing session.

In questioning that lasted more than an hour, councillors grilled Mr Osborne about how the structure plan would cater for increased traffic and what impact it would have on the Joondalup CBD.

Mayor Troy Pickard said the city had advice from consultants that expanding Whitford City to larger than 65,000sqm would have a detrimental effect on retailers in Joondalup’s CBD, contrary to information in the structure plan.

Mr Osborne said this was a result of different methodologies used to assess the impact and that he was confident the expansion would not diminish Joondalup CBD’s position as a major retail centre.

‘The population in this region is growing rapidly and retail space has not been keeping pace,’ he said.

The structure plan suggests that if implemented traffic volumes in the area could almost double by 2031.

It says this could be reduced to an increase of just 50 per cent by modifying the road layout, improving public transport and higher residential density around the |centre.

Joondalup planning director Dale Page told the briefing session the reduction was based on assumptions that ‘may not come to pass’.

Ms Page said releasing the plan for advertising would allow Westfield to make changes as a result of the council’s and the community’s concerns.

Urbis planning consultant Ray Haeren, speaking for Westfield, said the plan was ‘exciting in that it shows how other centres in built- up areas can become less car dependant’.

Mr Pickard replied: ‘I wish I shared your excitement’.