High-rise hell

AMP Capital’s three tower project for Karrinyup shopping centre.

“My question is: will the city now take a legal opinion on the DAP approval of Karrinyup Residential to investigate if there are valid grounds for a judicial review?”

A TRIO of towers planned for Karrinyup shopping centre has been approved by a state panel in what the local council calls a ‘terrible’ planning decision that froze out local representation.

Stirling council had opposed AMP Capital’s three towers which will have 270 total units and stand nine, 15 and 24 storeys tall in an area that so far has nothing over eight storeys.

The approval was given September 23 via a split vote by the Development Assessment Panel, featuring three state government appointed members who were in favour—Francesca Lefante, Lee O’Donohue, and John Syme—and two local councillors who voted no: Suzanne Migdale and Felicity Farrelly. 


It’s the latest of many controversial developments to be approved in a 3:2 split vote since DAPs were introduced in 2011 to “streamline development”. 

Stirling councillors issued a statement saying they were “disappointed” in the “terrible” decision. 

Mayor Mark Irwin said “I want to speak up about the contempt of the so-called expert panel towards the people of Karrinyup”.

He said the most disappointing part was hearing the appointed members of the panel acknowledge Stirling’s planners had put a lot of effort into preparing their recommendation, which advised the towers were too tall and bulky, “but in the very next breath choose to ignore it and exercise discretion.

“How does the community get ignored, detailed planning assessments by local government get ignored?”

“How does the whole power of planning come down to three people with no skin in the game or local knowledge?

“What does it say about the future of our system when three people have more power than the entire planning staff and community combined?”

Because the project is on a large “landmark site” there aren’t strict height limits, just a council rule that says they can’t be so big that they have a “significant detrimental impact on the amenity of the area”. 

The project’s planners from The Rowe Group had argued it’d be good for the area to have new residents and that this project wasn’t much different from other apartment-bearing shopping centres around Perth like South Perth and Canning Bridge. 

The council reckoned it would have a detrimental impact. The DAP’s three appointed members disagreed. 

Mr Irwin says the fear now is that the DAP will continue to dictate heights in surrounding areas.

He says during the DAP meeting “to rub salt into the wound, the panel chose to then lecture the City and the community on how they will have to rezone all of Karrinyup around the shopping centre, to ensure that the excessive scale of this development is in context with the panel’s ‘Future Karrinyup’.”

Following the DAP decision, at the September 28 council meeting local resident and council candidate Simon Wheeler queried whether the council would fight this move.

He said “the [Karrinyup Residents for Responsible Development] group requested several times that the city engage legal advice for the recent DAP meeting regarding the Karrinyup residential development” but the city reckoned no issues required clarity. He noted the DAP had signalled in May they wanted to rewrite Stirling’s planning scheme via “spot rezoning” to allow bigger buildings, “something that as far as KRRD are aware is not within the power of a DAP.

“My question is: will the city now take a legal opinion on the DAP approval of Karrinyup Residential to investigate if there are valid grounds for a judicial review?”

Council planning staff told him there were no such plans so far. 


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