Boulevard of Missed Opportunities
YOUR article on the Beaufort Street “revival” (Voice, April 12, 2014) only told part of the story, naively stressing the positives without highlighting the missed opportunities.
The development will be a vast improvement to the area and deserves some support however there could have been a better outcome for the community. Ultimately it was a case of flawed planning advice, poor consultation, inconsistent application of council policy, and an inexperienced council not standing up to a developer in order to get a better outcome.
The article said 75 letters had been sent out, implying the consultation was far and wide. In reality most letters went to a single large development at the corner of Chelmsford Road and Beaufort Street—a building that theoretically provides enough parking for its inhabitants and therefore will not be exposed to excessive parking pressure from the proposed development.
Only two of the 75 letters were delivered to other residents in Chelmsford and Grosvenor Roads.
The report from the planners contained simple technical errors in the calculation of cash-in-lieu which were not detected prior to the meeting. As well as making these embarrassing errors the staff claimed the parking shortfall, which they’d calculated at being about 29 bays, would not have any undue impact on the locality.
They then suggested the cash-in-lieu should be halved because the development, which contains three cafes, a small bar, a take-away food shop and three shops, is close to public transport. They completely forgot they had already given a 20 per cent parking discount because of proximity to public transport as per the city’s parking policy.
In the end the council decided not to give the suggested 50 per cent discount but did give a $30,000 discount. I wonder if Clarences, El Publico, Five Bar, etc will ask for some of their cash-in-lieu back in the name of a level playing field.
A way of reducing the parking impact is to change the mix of businesses to include more low-demand uses. At the council meeting Mayor John Carey said that when he’d first met the developers he’d asked them to change the mix so there was more retail, and less food and alcohol. He was spot on in his assessment.
But what he failed to recognise was that with such a large parking shortfall the council had the upper hand and could have suggested it was unlikely to win approval unless the mix was changed.
A councillor is quoted as saying that normally councils would have to beg to get a laneway created, as if the laneway was some form of altruistic gift from the developer to the community. The laneway, or “alfresco zone” as it is described on the plans, is there to increase business frontages and to provide extra alfresco dining, a use that does not attract a further parking requirement. While it will be an improvement for the area it was included to improve the developer’s return and was unlikely to be scrapped if changes to the mix were requested.
Mayor Carey is quoted as gushing about three retail shops, yet if you look at the plans that staff based their calculations on you will see the amount of retail space in the new development is one-third of what was there before. Hardly a great win.
The issue of business mix is complex and the complaint I’ve heard from businesses, surrounding residents and council members is there is too much food and alcohol and not enough of a mix along Beaufort Street.
Every new café just provides more competition to the existing cafes rather than being something that attracts new people.
Something needs to be done.
Occasionally, council has a very strong hand which it can use to influence the mix of businesses. The Beaufort Street development was such an occasion. Unfortunately the council was too easily bluffed. All that was required was a slightly tougher attitude and a better poker face.
Chatsworth Rd, Highgate
The Ed says: Mr Maier is a former veteran Vincent councillor who retired in October.
Our beautiful big Mac
SPACE, please, for homage to our national dictionary, the Macquarie.
Our state education system stubbornly refuses to make the changes necessary to achieve the standards of literacy and numeracy we need for a satisfying future. It prompts my homage.
The Mac, it should be stressed, is as much encyclopaedia as dictionary.
Rarely do I open my concise (fifth edition) Mac without being sidetracked from my immediate inquiry.
Waka Waka snags my eye. The WACA is, of course, a household expression in Perth, but what of Waka Waka? Strange but true: in fact, an Aboriginal people of an area around the upper Brisbane and Burnett rivers in south-eastern Queensland.
And there’s the Mammoth Cave I’ve never before heard of; a limestone cave nothing to do with mammoths, more indicative of its size, and near our Margaret River.
Without a Mac in homes, schools, colleges and media newsrooms we seriously deprive ourselves.
Times are when I forget completely the query that prompts my delving. Guess that’s to do with aging.
More important in such delving is not only our paying homage to the Mac—first published by Kevin Weldon in 1982—but also fulfilling its purpose.
Why Mac? Do your own delving. So much more enjoyable, relaxing and liberating than resort to electronic spellers.
First Ave, Mt Lawley