COMMENT ON CLAREMONT NEP DESIGN GUIDELINES

CLAREMONT SUBMISSION

Mr Stephen Goode

Chief Executive Officer

Town of Claremont

Via email toc@claremont.wa.gov.au

Comment on Claremont NEP Design Guidelines, Detailed Area Plans and Structure Plan revisions – Submission by ALIVE WA group

Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission on the Claremont NEP Design Guidelines.

ALIVE WA is a not-for-profit organization of West Australians established to encourage alternative urban design. The principles we support are based on sustainability and a preference for:

  • Medium density
  • Flexible design that accommodates people in all stages of life
  • Developments which encourage a strong sense of community – both within the resident community and between the residents and the broader community in which they are situated
  • Connectivity that offers access to basic services within walking distance and most other services via public transport.

Our reasons for supporting medium-density developments are many and varied:

  • The economic and environmental costs of continued urban sprawl in Perth are unsustainable
  • The growing and ageing population of Perth lends itself to higher density developments that facilitate easy access to a range of appropriately targeted services and amenities
  • Apartment living suits a wide range of people, from young people who prefer smaller centrally located accommodation through to retirees who prefer a ‘lock ‘n leave’ lifestyle
  • An increasing number of people live on their own and prefer the proximity of others both for security and companionship
  • Well-designed apartment developments have the capacity to promote a stronger sense of community than is possible in traditional suburban environments.

ALIVE WA is keen to support and work with developers and governments (both state and local) in sympathy with this vision. We are therefore very supportive of the general intent and concept for the NE Precinct and we congratulate all involved in the development of the proposal.

We particularly like:

  • The sustainability aspects of the proposal and the environmental considerations built-in to the design guidelines (from such things as the orientation of the buildings and the cross-ventilation arrangements, through to the provision of bicycle storage).
  • The fact that the retail and public open space is open to the public – and not exclusively for residents. We regard this as vital in achieving a vibrant environment.
  • The mixed use concept.
  • The diversity of housing.
  • The emphasis on passive surveillance.

We do, however, have some reservations about the changes to the original Structure

Plan and the later Design Guidelines. These are outlined below.

Public Open Space

The reduction in space is noted as being from 17.4% to 15.54 %, equating to a reduction of 1.86%. In fact this represents 10.7% of the original amount.

We are pleased that the objective of the Communal Outdoor Space is “To ensure that developments incorporate plaza, terraces and other public spaces that provide public areas for people to recreate”. With the variation to the Public Open Space from that outlined in the Structure Plan ALIVE emphasizes that these spaces are vital for the vision ALIVE has for how the NE Precinct can become a vibrant and inclusive place.

Under 4.6 of the Design Guidelines Active Edges, there is a comment “Orient the areas of greatest activity and interest such as commercial/retail tenancies and residential living spaces toward the street front”. We view it as imperative that some retail spaces (e.g. coffee shops) face towards the oval, particularly in Lot 509. We envisage this would allow parents to maintain sight of children playing on the oval as well as allow for adult games such as boules and outdoor chess in the green space between the building edge and the oval (marked 10 on at 4.0 Urban Design p4 of Design Guidelines.) Such co-location would make the spaces more vibrant and active.

Another important element in the public open space is the area designated as ‘The Race’ in the Structure Plan which ALIVE understood would be the location for a children’s playground. We are concerned to ensure that the reduced space in the Design Guidelines would still allow for an appropriate children’s playground to be located here.

The planning literature also suggests that good public spaces do not happen instantly. What is required, it seems, is provision of flexibility so that spaces can grow and change as lessons are learnt about how spaces work best and how they can be made more inviting. This also happens in response to the different resources that can be leveraged and what partnerships can be formed to further activate the spaces.  For this reason, we would suggest that as many public open spaces as possible in the development be designed with mixed/changing use in mind.

ALIVE is concerned about the changes to the large plaza at the station in lot 512 indicated on the Structure Plan. In the Design Guidelines this is now shown as a much smaller space. We had envisaged that the larger plaza could be used to create distinctive activities unique to the Claremont area. The plaza could draw people to the area through events such as regular second hand book fairs, outdoor cooking classes, multicultural fairs, open-air exercise classes, and BYO food events where alcohol could also be purchased from a bar set up in the plaza. We understand this space is subject to further development as the Public Transport Authority may be designing the entrance to an underpass at this location. We wish to emphasize that we see this larger plaza as a vital part of the whole development.

Under 5.0 on p.24 there is a statement that “Encourage the use of roof areas as paved outdoor terraced and gardens with associated climate protection elements”. We strongly support this and wonder if it is possible to make this mandatory in one or more of the lots or at least to require developers to make provision for the possibility of creating a roof garden. 

Considerations for ‘ageing in place’

For any development to embrace best practice for ‘ageing in place’ it is important to pay attention to both universal design and community aspects. This does not mean a preoccupation with medical issues but an acknowledgement of the types of services that may be needed by a proportion of the residents who are ageing. Many of these will the same as for the wider community – restaurants, convenience stores, hairdresser, medical practitioners, physiotherapy, dentists – but some may be different. ALIVE is pleased that this development allows for the provision of these services within the retail and commercial parts of the design. ALIVE has approached an aged care provider who has indicated providers would probably have a presence within the commercial and retail precinct to provide appropriate service to the small percentage of residents requiring their services.

 Universal Access

There is a statement on p.17 of the Design Guidelines that states ‘Universal access should also be considered with regard to building entrances.’ ALIVE strongly supports the incorporation of universal design principles in all aspects of the development. It is vital that all apartments are designed using universal design principles so as to ensure the accommodation is appropriate for residents across all stages of their life and maximizes the opportunities for adaptability. For this reason we strongly support the inclusion of dual-key apartments in the development. Dual key apartments are separate dwellings with two entrances, a shared foyer and on a single title. This is very positive for ‘whole of life’ accommodation and would suit adult children, ageing parents, carers and visitors. 

Yield and apartment sizes

The Structure Plan included a net apartment size of 125 square metres as the average used to derive the target dwelling yield. ALIVE is extremely concerned that the new assumptions in the Design Guidelines reduce the size of apartments. We note that the target dwelling sizes are not mandated and that actual dwelling sizes remain flexible to allow appropriate market responses at the time of development. We wish to note concern that the average size used to calculate the target dwelling sizes may be too small. We believe that a 3 bedroom dwelling of 140 square metres would be a more acceptable size.

ALIVE members have discussed the issue of apartment size and the apartment market with a number of agents currently selling apartments in the Claremont area. We understand that changes in the apartment market have occurred over the last 5 years in response to the current economic climate. However we wish to emphasize that:

  • The yield and net apartment sizes outlined in the Design Guidelines need to allow for maximum flexibility as market conditions will no doubt change over the timeframe within which the NE Precinct will be developed. We note that the Structure Plan Guidelines stated “The target yields are therefore minimum yields and a percentage of flexibility will be afforded to the dwelling targets, with greater flexibility being granted to increasing rather than decreasing yields.’ ALIVE strongly recommends that this flexibility should also be for decreasing yields to allow for the 3 bedroom apartments to be of the size we have suggested.
  • Current market data for the Claremont area may not be truly representative of the baby boomer retirement market. This demographic has not previously been offered the lifestyle options afforded by the NE Precinct. This includes various amenities advocated by ALIVE, which we believe would be a major attraction for potential older buyers (e.g. individually tailored aged care services).

To accommodate outdoor dining and living we would also suggest that the minimum width for balconies should be 3.0m, rather than the 2.5 outlined in the Design guidelines. We also note that the minimum storage space of 1.5m seems too small.

Commercial /Mixed Use

The change to the commercial/mixed use in the eastern part of Lot 508 and Lot 506 seems to ALIVE to represent the loss of a natural link for pedestrians/shoppers between the Claremont development and the Showgrounds (which is likely to be developed in the future).

 Noise control

We note that the Design Guidelines state that ”Development should be designed to appropriately consider impacts of adjacent or nearby noise sources. Noise sources may include the railway line, road networks, activities carried our by the CFC and events associated with the Showgrounds.” While ALIVE has been informed that the Building Codes provide standards for noise control within buildings we suggest that developers be required to ensure that noise between apartments is minimized by appropriate soundproofing and other sound minimization strategies.

Community Facilities

ALIVE would like to see a range of shared facilities for residents somewhere in the development (e.g. party room for hire, communal kitchen and eating area, WiFi area, meeting rooms, studio etc). While we are aware that Claremont Football Club will be providing a range of community facilities within their redevelopment we think provision should be made for these facilities to be included in the retail and commercial part of the precinct. This would assist in promoting the community connectedness that flows from the sharing of communal facilities.

Other facilities such as communal vegetable gardens, a workshop or Men’s Shed and art studio should also ideally be located within developments such as the North East Precinct. It would appear this has not been considered in this development.

ALIVE has approached the Royal Agricultural Society and held preliminary discussions with them about ways they plan to relate to the NE Precinct. Our early discussions indicate some of these community facilities may be accommodated within the show grounds. Even though this may solve some of these issues for the NE Precinct ALIVE is of the view that as a matter of public policy such things should be considered in future similar developments.

Solar access

ALIVE considers the environmental Design and Performance measures to be a major positive of the development. One of the stated objectives stated in the Design Guidelines is to “Ensure the built form is conceived in a way hat allows goods solar access to the public realm and adjacent buildings.” The Structure Plan included shadow diagrams that illustrated the position of shadows in winter in internal courtyards. ALIVE seeks reassurance that with the increase in building heights the internal courtyards will receive adequate winter sun as envisaged in the Structure Plan.

Energy efficiency

The Design Guidelines state “Northern oriented solar collection panels are encouraged on roof areas for hot water and heating and electricity.”

ALIVE would like to see this as mandatory. ALIVE proposes that a competition be run (by the Claremont Council and Landcorp) to find the proponents who build the most environmentally friendly development.

 Timing of installation of Traffic Lights

ALIVE would like to see the traffic lights at the major intersection of Davies and Shenton Roads installed early in the project development. We understand the road realignment on Shenton Rd is not scheduled until late in the development, but traffic lights should be installed earlier for safety reasons. This is especially as the new location for the Park ‘n Ride (which we support) will be completed in the early stages.

 Public Consultation

ALIVE suggest successful proponents be required to engage in public consultation. This will ensure the changing demographic we think will be interested in the NE Precinct can have input into the design of the apartments.

We would again like to thank you for the opportunity to provide a submission on this important development. We believe that the NE Precinct could become an exemplar for future developments in Perth and provide Claremont with another exciting and vibrant development.

Maxine Murray

Convenor,

on behalf of ALIVE members Jan Stuart, Susan Barrera, Jan Saggers, Mariana Atkins,

Marie Finlay, Mike Wiggin, Jo Trevelyan

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