The Sorrento secondary school’s gym had been recommended for refusal by the City of Joondalup because of its height and the negative impact it would have on surrounding residential properties.
During public consultation, letters were sent to 55 nearby households and 19 submissions were received ” all objecting to the proposal.
The $8.4 million development, earmarked for the northern side of the school oval, is a two-storey extension of the existing gym, including two indoor and six outdoor courts, a soccer field, five classrooms, biomechanics and weight rooms, change rooms, staff offices, and a kitchen.
To connect the new gym to the existing one with a bridge, 4m retaining walls are required, taking the proposed development to a maximum height of 15.7m from the existing ground level. This does not comply with a City policy that states non-residential buildings within 300m of the coast must be a maximum of 10m high.
However, at the North West Metro Joint Development Assessment Panel meeting, MGA Town Planning consultant Peter Goff argued if the 4m walls were approved, that fill would become the natural ground level and the building would only be 11.7m above that level.
He also argued the school oval had previously been excavated about 5m below the ground level of the nearest residence so if the 4m walls were approved, the gym would still be 1m below the ground level and only be a maximum of 10.7m above that level.
Joondalup councillor John Chester said he did not think it reasonable to define the natural ground level where it would have been before the oval was excavated. ‘Natural level is where it is at the moment,’ he said.
Joondalup planning and community development director Dale Page said the 4m fill had not yet been approved and so could not be considered as the natural ground level.
However, alternate deputy presiding member Ian Birch argued the existing ground level was not natural.
‘The school is being penalised by the fact that they cut the oval some years ago,’ he said.
Mike Allen Planning consultant Mike Allen said even if the 4m of fill was taken into account, the building height would still breach the City’s coastal policy.
Cr Chester said the proposal was ‘so impacting on the local residents that it’s unacceptable’.
‘If the proponent was to reconsider and modify the height and maybe move it farther south, it would probably be more than likely to get the tick of approval,’ he said.
Cr Norman agreed the proposal needed to be modified.
‘I would like to see a new gym built at the school; however, I am conscious of the concerns expressed by residents,’ he said.
The decision was deferred to give the applicant an opportunity to review the design.