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Planning rules still developer bugbear

Planning rules still developer bugbear

Helen Shield

Zone Q, the Chinese property developer and investor that last week purchased Westralia Plaza for $87 million, has declared itself a believer in the State's long-term economic potential.

Zone Q director Melinda Wang said Westralia Plaza, "premium asset for our portfolio in Australia", was in one of the "most desirable office precincts in Perth" and was generating stable cash flow because it was fully occupied with reputable tenants.

Ms Wang said Zone Q - ultimately owned by developer JiaHe JianAn, a big developer in Southern China - was monitoring  demand in the office sector.

"If there are signals for recovery, Zone Q will consider more asset investment," she said.

Zone Q made its Perth debut with the $100 million Pinnacle apartment project in South Perth in 2013. The 20- storey, 102-apartment project, the first residential tower to be completed under the City of South Perth's new height regime, is 80 per cent sold and on track to be finished by the end of the year.

It is also building the 21-level, 184-apartment Nspire on the corner of Aberdeen and Beaufort streets in Northbridge.

An application for a third apartmement project, a $178 million, 38-storey mixed-use apartment tower at 88 Mill Point Road, South Perth, was rejected by the Metropolitan Central development assessment panel after a Supreme Court ruling found that City of South Perth planning rules specified that buildings over a certain height must be mostly commercial.

While not specifically referring to that development, when asked about the big issues for developers in WA, Ms Wang singled out planning challenges "in some suburbs" and changing household incomes and market confidence.

"Perth is Zone Q's starting point in Australia", she said.

"Although there is a softening effect in the property sector, Zone Q believes in the long-term potential of WA and its stable population growth.

"Zone Q is seeking opportunities in Sydney as well as additional sites in Perth. Sydney's market has been hot for a while and Zone Q is very careful on its acquisition strategy. Perth's performance is soft compared with other capital citites but Zone Q believes owner-occupiers pay for value and quality even in a tough market."

Ms Wang said the company was committed to making "an exceptional contribution to growth and development" and its focus was on high-density residential and commercial complexes close to the CBD.

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