Cumberland Council adopts design excellence program for Wentworthville and Merrylands

Lift your game: The Cumberland Independent Hearing Assessment Panel recommended a design excellence provision for the proposed Wentworthville Mall redevelopment last December. It has resulted in new guidelines for the town centre. Picture: Isabella Lettini
Lift your game: The Cumberland Independent Hearing Assessment Panel recommended a design excellence provision for the proposed Wentworthville Mall redevelopment last December. It has resulted in new guidelines for the town centre. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Why should Parramatta hog the limelight and awards for impressive building designs?

Developers now have to bring their A-game in Wentworthville and Merrylands under a new design excellence program adopted by Cumberland Council last week. The aim is to ensure high quality design outcomes for tall buildings above eight storeys. It introduces new guidelines for developers and introduces design excellence into Local Environmental Plans.

In a first for Cumberland, an independent panel of designs experts will be established to review applications and award incentives.

It comes after Cumberland Independent Hearing Assessment Panel recommended a design excellence provision for the proposed Wentworthville Mall redevelopment, which resulted in new guidelines for the town centre. It will be introduced to the Wentworthville Mall site in the coming weeks. The council plans to roll the program out to other areas, including Granville.

“We want developers to use high quality materials and detailing; to design buildings that respond to the character of the area; to think green and include solar access and other sustainable design elements; and to improve and expand public spaces,” council general manager Malcolm Ryan said.

Developers who meet certain indicators of design excellence will be able to build slightly higher buildings – a bonus height increase of up to 10 per cent – and increase their floor space by five to 10 per cent. But they must first submit an application to the design Excellence Panel before submitting a DA.

“With the exception of a panel coordinator, no council staff member or councillor may serve on the panel, putting the whole process at arm’s length and adding an extra layer of probity,” Mr Ryan said. “By increasing the onus on developers before they reach the DA process, DA processing time won’t be affected This model has proven effective for the City of Sydney, Parramatta and Liverpool councils. If you look at the WSU building in Parramatta or even the Galeria development incorporating heritage items in Harris Park, you can see the value in this approach.”