Albany councillors signal intent to allow buildings up to eight storeys within Woolstores precinct

Stuart McGuckinAlbany Advertiser
A model showing the potential sight line of the harbour from Albany Ring Road Bridge after development.
Camera IconA model showing the potential sight line of the harbour from Albany Ring Road Bridge after development. Credit: Rowe Group Design

A plan allowing for buildings up to eight storeys within the Albany Woolstores precinct is likely to be endorsed by the city’s council this month.

A detailed structure plan for the precinct is due to be considered at the council’s ordinary meeting on February 27 before it is forwarded to the WA Planning Commission for final approval.

At Wednesday’s Development and Infrastructure Services Committee meeting councillors signalled intent to back the eight-storey height restriction first proposed by the site’s owners, Rural Logistics, rather than the six-storey limit suggested by city planning officers.

An amendment removing any mention of a proposed six-storey limit in a list of proposed modifications was unanimously backed.

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A separate amendment removing specifications that coastal protection measures must be soft in nature was also unanimously backed, with many councillors insisting there needed to be a greater level of flexibility within the structure plan.

A third amendment to remove suggested modifications widening the proposed setback from 20m to 30m was backed 7-3.

All three amendments were tabled by Cr Thomas Brough.

He argued two extra stories would have little negative impact but would significantly boost Albany’s tourism potential, that there needed to be flexibility regarding coastal protection options and that a 30m setback would result in a “lot of space”.

“If we think about the number one issue in Albany at the moment, it’s not insufficient outside spaces to roam around in because that’s something we have in spades,” he said.

“What we don’t have in spades is land close to town that can be used for moderate density residential as well as hospitality and tourism.”

The 85-page draft structure plan detailing the potential for 215-330 dwellings, tourism accommodation and retail within the 16.4ha site was published for comment by the city in September.

During the comment period 15 submissions were made by agencies and a further 16 were made by members of the public, groups or businesses.

Key themes identified during the process related to the provision of services, environmental matters, coastal processes, noise, the need for public open space, the commercial viability of the precinct, built form and accessibility.

In response to the draft plan, city officers prepared a list of 21 suggested modifications, which councillors spent about 50 minutes seeking further information on.

It took a further 45 minutes of debate and questioning for the amended recommendation to be passed unanimously.

Councillors were also given a site tour on Tuesday by Rural Logistics director Mark Dyson and Rowe Group town planner Andrew Cumming.

Mr Dyson and Mr Cumming also presented the case for the plan’s endorsement during public question time at the start of Wednesday’s meeting.

The amended recommendation will be carried forward to the February 27 ordinary council meeting to be debated and voted on further.

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