Kensington locals fight against proposed development which would be “completely out of character”
Kensington residents are fighting a proposal to put a mixed-use development in their historic street, saying its size would have a “very negative impact”.
Property developer Assemble Communities wants to build four buildings between four and eight storeys high at 402-432 and 434-444 Macaulay Rd, which are currently the sites of industrial buildings.
The project would include a total of 362 apartments consisting of one- and three-bedroom studio apartments – of which 20 per cent would be provided as social housing.
Under the plans, three buildings would also comprise shops, a supermarket, a cafe, and office space. All ground floors would feature community spaces and workshops which would cater for social engagements, events, functions, recreational and networking activities.
Onsite amenities for residents would include a courtyard area, a common area, and co-working spaces and lounges.
However, objectors have expressed concerns about the plans, saying the sheer size of the development was “far too big”, and would affect the neighbourhood’s character and amenity.
Kensington Association chair Simon Harvey has written a submission outlining his concerns, particularly the development’s impact to traffic and parking, which is “not being properly considered”.
“The proximity of Barnett St to existing commercial properties on the Macaulay Rd corner, in addition to the new commercial premises to be built along Macaulay Rd, will absolutely require special treatment of the street parking arrangements, in order to protect the parking needs of residents in Barnett St,” he wrote.
“There are steps that can be taken to mitigate the very negative impact of a development of this size on existing residents.”
“With another development in the pipeline (352-400 Macaulay Rd), and others in progress or waiting to be realised, there is an urgent requirement for a precinct-wide traffic and parking assessment.”
According to the plans, a total of 161 car parking spaces would be provided in one level of a basement for residents and retail tenancies. An additional 338 parking spaces would be provided for bicycles and 10 for motorbikes.
A Barnett St resident, who did not want to be identified, said he and other residents “strongly object” to the proposal, saying it would have a detrimental impact on the community.
“It’s a very heritage street, the backdrop of the proposed build will be completely out of character,” he told North West City News.
He said traffic issues “are just the beginning of the major issues and impact this development will have on both the Kensington community but especially Barnett St residents.”
In his submission to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) in opposing the plans, he said other new developments at 393 Macaulay Rd, 347 Macaulay Rd, and 15 Thompson St, would increase congestion and traffic, which “has not been well considered and accounted for throughout this plan.”
The resident also cited issues of privacy, saying “as a young family we are deeply concerned about the new build with residents seeing into our backyards.”
He said the planting of infant trees to create privacy for Barnett St residents would “take a considerable amount of time” – up to 10 years – before the trees were tall enough to cover the view from the new apartments – with residents calling for temporary screens to be installed if the development is approved.
According to the planning application, Assemble Communities will aim to “deliver a scale of development that complements the established low-scale residential area”.
“A variety of architectural techniques including differing building forms and typologies, contrasting materials and finishes, street walls, setbacks, street level activity, and distribution of balconies and windows to each of the buildings deliver a truly exceptional design response to the site,” it said.
Assemble said the social housing offering was a “fundamental component” of the application, and “demonstrates a measurable broader community benefit within an identified urban renewal precinct”.
DELWP is considering the plans. •
Caption: Kensington Association chair Simon Harvey and other residents are strongly objecting to a “bulky building” proposal, which they say will be imposing on their backyard privacy, which makes no transition to their single storey heritage homes.
Photo: Murray Enders.