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The impact of a development is something that comes up as a consideration regularly for infill projects. Assessing the impact of a proposal upon the amenity of the locality is a broader consideration of the appropriateness or otherwise of a proposal, and transcends the assessment of individual aspects of compliance and non-compliance with development standards.
Development on the urban fringe, mainly large scale subdivisions, to a degree, have to satisfy a range of technical, environmental, and planning considerations, yet in many ways create their own sets of rules with Developer prepared structure plans, etc. This has contributed to a city that is sprawled by world city standards, and is largely a response to the Australian Dream of purchasing a parcel of land, and building your own home. This desire is not only unsustainable, but leads to issues such as social isolation, services and infrastructure following years after subdivisions are established, and the general lack of proximity to businesses, services and entertainment precincts in the inner city or more urbanised environments.
Given the current state of urban form in metropolitan Perth, there is a significant shift towards projects that bring about regeneration and consolidation into lower density urban and suburban environments. With this shift comes a range of challenges, that whilst may not be new, are increasing in prevalence as the shift towards forms of infill development occur.
Community consultation is a part of the development assessment process, and something that informs decision makers when making determinations on a range of proposals. Whilst some people embrace change, and are welcoming of new development in existing areas, the prospect of change can present as something to be fearful of.
A common place that the community turns to during consultation periods, if change may not be desired by nearby residents, is the purported impact on the amenity of the locality that the development will have. It then becomes important to undertake a thorough amenity impact assessment, to determine if there are any real impacts, or if in fact they are perceived.
In a recent project in South Fremantle, we were engaged to assist with providing specialist amenity impact commentary, as this was suggested as being a key problem with the proposal.
Amenity Impact commentary is not about specific compliance with development standards, or providing linguistic gymnastics by way of justification. Whilst these are both important in terms of progressing a proposal, amenity impacts transcend formulaic information, and rely upon urban analysis, and a clear understanding of the locality, and the proposal. generally speaking, an appropriate assessment of amenity impacts contains three key elements:
A thorough description and account for the current amenity of the locality;
An assessment of the proposal; and
Consideration of the future amenity, if the proposal is approved, and constructed.
We find that decision makers, particularly the various Development Assessment Panels in Western Australia find this level of information and analysis useful, because, confirmation of compliance and/or non-compliance with development standards, is often not enough. For example, the recent South Fremantle project was subjected to 10 objections during the community consultation, of which comments included planning merit that warranted consideration. The deliberation of this matter alone took three hours, of which, varying presentations both for and against the proposal were provided.
Ultimately, we were able to successfully convey, in conjunction with the Project Architect and Developer that the proposal, whilst contentious, was merely a two storey mixed-use building, on a high street, where there were plenty of other similar development examples. By focussing on key amenity considerations, the supporting evidence for the project is strengthened, and the decision maker is provided with a higher level of comfort that they approving the proposal is a reasonable decision making outcome.
Again, whilst it is a basic requirement for non-complying applications, isolated justification against non-complying development aspects don’t address or satisfy in totality, what the area will be like if the proposal is approved and constructed, and if the proposal will be similar or different to existing development, and if it is vastly different, is that because the area is currently in need of regeneration, or if the proposal would in essence, diminish the current amenity.
Being able to provide justifications, and take those thoughts further to produce high level amenity impact commentary is a result of our deliberate focus on statutory planning, and something that is a part of all of our Applications. So much so that we thought that it may as well be a separate, standalone service offering.
The benefit of this service offering, is that it provides an independent review of a proposal, and provides further supporting information for consideration by decision makers. We find that in relation to complex projects, it is never one person or discipline that is responsible for a positive outcomes, but rather the cumulative layering of requisite information.
From a cost perspective, if a proposal is contentious, and is either recommended for refusal, includes a number of variations, or is the subject of community opposition, placing the proposal at risk of refusal means costly re-submissions, or challenge through the SAT, not to mention a black mark against the site and project that is referred to in future proceedings, or applications. If you then take into consider holding costs, and for example, the time of the year, the opportunity cost for a refusal can be high.
Pinnacle Planning has spent most of 2017 positioning itself for strategic growth, and is excited to start 2018 with a range of complex projects to both continue with and commence. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your needs on projects this year, and contributing to your success through our exceptional service delivery and knowledge.