Latest tower to plunge South Perth flats into darkness


Another fight has erupted in the high-density battleground of South Perth, this time over a proposal for a 33-storey tower, set to wall in the three-storey block of flats next door.

The 107-metre Sky Residences proposal features a podium (base) more than 20 metres high, almost double the height of the neighbouring block of one-bedroom flats.

Image showing the building heights in relation to each other.

Image showing the building heights in relation to each other. Photo: Mark Paskos

Neighbours most affected are in the west-facing apartments whose living rooms, ground-floor courtyards and first and second floor balconies all look straight on to the podium wall.

The podium is proposed to have a zero setback from the boundary, so it would be flush with the fences of the courtyards and be about four metres from the balcony edges.

Official overshadowing models show these living areas will lie in the shadow of the proposed tower from 1pm all afternoon in both summer and winter.

WAtoday has added black shading to designate the shaded portion of the neighbouring building.

WAtoday has used black to show the portion of the neighbouring building shadowed in the afternoons.

The flats are designed so that all living areas are on the western side, meaning morning sun only enters the small east-facing kitchens and bathroom windows.

Just a few flats in the L-shaped block are unaffected because they face south and are on the far edge that escapes the overshadowing.

The ground-floor courtyard at present gets plenty of natural light. The wall will reach the fence.

The ground-floor courtyard now. The proposed podium will reach right up to the fence. Photo: Supplied.

Retiree Mark Paskos, who rents his second-floor flat to his son, has completed his own model of the tower's height impact on residents' ability to see sky from their homes.

They show that to see a strip of sky, west-facing residents will have to go and stand on the edge of their balconies and crane their necks back at an 81-degree angle.

Ground floor residents with courtyards will have sky views and direct sunlight virtually eliminated.

The architect has softened the podium design in response to community concerns about its impact - scaling it back, making it a "green wall" on that side, and creating a landscaping strip along the top of the podium deep enough to plant trees on.

But for owners and residents there is no getting past the loss of sky, sun and air that the height and bulk of the building will necessitate.

Planning guidelines for the area state building heights should be maximum 41 metres, with podium heights 8-13.5 metres. But developers can apply for height bonuses, as in this case.

Artist's impression.

Artist's impression. Photo: Hillam Architects.

Guidelines also state zero-setbacks are only allowed if there are no adverse impacts on neighbours, in which a four-metre setback should theoretically apply.

To justify the height and scale bonuses the Perth architect, Hillam Architects, has worked with the City of South Perth's independent Design Review Panel and says the panel has endorsed this design as being of 'exemplary quality'.

The rezoning of the area as high-density was originally done to provide population growth to justify a local train station - but no train station is included in current state public transport planning.

The softened podium design showing public spaces, and split tower design with the rear section angled to minimise impact. Photo: Hillam Architects

The design includes a six-level above-ground car park projected to generate more than 1300 extra car movements on Bowman Street per day as cars travel to and from Kwinana Freeway via Labouchere Road.

Mr Paskos bought his flat nearly 30 years ago thinking South Perth would be a suburb in which residents would cycle or catch public transport to the city.

He said the flats were only currently worth around $300,000 even with views intact.

The flats, seen from Bowman Street on the south side.

The flats, seen from Bowman Street on the south side. Photo: Google

"I thought a developer would come and buy me out, instead of destroying my property and my dreams," he said.

"We knew development would be big, but we didn't think it would be ridiculously big.

"If something goes wrong property values-wise, I can handle the hit - but most of the other owners can't."

He described the official processes involved in challenging the development as "daunting and disheartening".

The rezoning was also intended to provide more commercial activity in the area to avoid it becoming a dormitory suburb.

The architect states there will be a net gain in commercial space over the office currently occupying the site, with the design including a cafe, convenience store and doctor's office. But this is also when 20 serviced apartments on levels one to five are defined as commercial space ??? a definition that has proved controversial in the past.

Hillam is not traditionally known for developing high-rise, but is behind several of Perth's most controversial recent tower proposals including the 3 Oceans twin-tower development in Scarborough, recently knocked back to the drawing board by the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority.

The proposal has been knocked back by the MRA.

The proposal has been knocked back by the MRA. Photo: 3 Oceans

It also designed two other towers proposed for South Perth: Lumiere, currently subject to a second Supreme Court appeal launched by South Perth residents, and the 43-story Lyall St tower very close to the proposed Sky Residences.

The firm has recently written that as it continues to "progress into high density multi-residential projects" it worked with a "facade engineer" to develop the faceted grid design of Sky Residences.

"We have been fortunate enough to be working closely with our client, NewLeaf Homes, who agreed to engage a facade engineer in the early stages of the project, understanding the risk of getting such a major component of the design wrong," a recent blog post said.

The design up close.

The design up close. Photo: Hillam Architects

Hillam director Mandy Leung said the Singaporean developer had not built in Perth before, but that it had extensive experience delivering high quality multi-residential and mixed-use projects in Singapore.

NewLeaf's managers were willing to work with the community to achieve a high standard in Perth, she said, and this was evidenced by its softening of the podium design.

Ms Leung said the overshadowed living areas still got sunlight from 12pm to 1pm when the sun was directly overhead.

She emphasised design aspects such as the continuous pedestrian awning complementing the cafe area, and generous public plaza with landscaping, water features and seating, as well as a community meeting room and function space within the building.

Representing the group of 18 owners, Mr Paskos has met with the state government's planning reform team to communicate concerns.

He will also meet with policy advisors to Planning Minister Rita Saffioti on January 31.

In coming days the City of South Perth will release its report and staff recommendation on the proposal.

At a special meeting on February 6 councillors will vote on the report and form the official recommendation to the local Development Assessment Panel. The meeting is at 5.30 pm in council chambers.

The DAP will then meet on February 9 to discuss whether the project goes ahead in its current form.

Both meetings are open to the public and both sides will make presentations.

This story Latest tower to plunge South Perth flats into darkness first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.