Unley Civic Centre plan
On Monday 14 November 2016 Unley Council endorsed the proposal to re-develop the Unley Civic Centre. Approval was given for the proposal to proceed.
The vote was 8 vs. 2 in favour.
Those absent were Councillor Mike Hudson, Councillor Rob Sangster and Mayor Lachlan Clyne.
Those voting against were Councillor Bob Schnell and Councillor Michael Hewitson.
At the meeting I gave 2 reasons for my decision viz.
The issue of the nature of public consultation and its timing.
During the consultation there will not be any scale model of what will be built. Residents will not be able to easily visualise the proposed outcome. They will just have opportunity to reflect on the allowable heights (along the 4 street frontages) dictated by the DPA and the mandatory requirements imposed by Council eg. retaining the Museum cottage, retaining a Village Green, street trees, greenery within the envelope, underground carparks etc.
I have real doubt that residents will be able to consider all of the criteria and then create a scale model in their minds. There will be no single model that residents can ponder, reflect upon and then respond to Council with their comments and concerns.
Further, and importantly, during the consultation period the expression of interest engagement with developers starts.
The Gantt (timeframe) chart shows no future public consultation.
The nature of the process and governance for this project will not allow residents to review the submissions from the developers; and affect any real change.
The Deed is scheduled to be signed with the preferred developer in May/June 2018.
The next Council election is in October 2018.
I object to such a major decision being made 5 months before the election. It is a decision that the next Council must then own and manage over 4-5 years. It is a decision that will extend over the life of the next 2 Councils.
My preference would be to either bring the schedule forward (which we can't) or to delay signing the deed with the developer until after the election (which we can't because associated expenses will have commenced; and also there is an agreed schedule with the developer.)
The recent endorsement by Council means that the process has commenced.
Yes, there will be concerns raised by the community; but trust me, the decision will not be over-turned. The only issue that may arise is if the market for high rise apartments in Unley declines and the developer can't get financing and pre-sales.
A further issue to be considered is:
The City of Unley must be seen to be a good corporate citizen and ensure that the development is a model of excellence in planning. This would be reflected in the heights on the 4 street frontages, the internal and external greenery, compatibility and blending with the Town Hall/Library/Church/Museum and adequate onsite carparks (eg. 250 underground, by my estimate) etc. The trouble is, such constraints on a developer may make the development not cost viable (without say, an increase in height, perhaps on Unley Road).
The saving grace is that Unley can refuse any of the submissions. However, it is (I think) obliged to accept one of the compliant submissions. Rejecting all compliant submissions would (I think) impose a significant $ penalty on the Council.
I foresee that this issue will dominate Council's concerns over the next 18 months.
There is no turning back. The clock is ticking ...
I am hopeful that the development will be sensitive and retain the charm of the Civic Centre precinct.
I am confident that there will be a best endeavour for an acceptable outcome.
Here is a link to the Council agenda.
See Item 663 on page 47 and the Gantt chart on page 58 ...