Ascot Quays liquidation paves way for change of use approval
On Tuesday 27th August, Councillors at the City of Belmont voted unanimously to approve the planning application for the change of use of Ascot Quays apartments at 150 Great Eastern Highway, Ascot.
This was the culmination of 5 months work that commenced when the operator of the serviced apartment complex unexpectedly went into liquidation, leaving 70 individual apartment Owners with no income, no ability to live in their apartment permanently, sell to an Owner Occupier or rent out to anyone for more than 3 months in any 12 month period.
Ascot Quays was one of the very first properties I sold when I started my career in real estate, aged 20. Situated on the banks of the Swan River between the Perth Airport and CBD, Ascot Quays was seen as a great investment opportunity.
Sold to Investors the apartments were always designed with the intention that they could be permanently occupied in the future, however Investors were offered an attractive long term lease to a hotel operator that would ensure them consistent rent over many years.
Unfortunately when the first Owners tried to convert the use to permanent residential occupation the City of Belmont rejected the application on the basis that the individual storerooms were only 2sqm to 3sqm instead of 4sqm.
Interestingly over the same period there have been many developments across other councils in Perth designed and approved for permanent occupation with individual storerooms less than 4sqm, however the City of Belmont took the firm view that they were not able or willing to use discretion on this technical matter.
When pressed on the matter by some individual Owners, a myriad of other reasons to not allow the change of use were also given by the council.
Not being able to change the use has left many Owners stranded over many years, unable to live in their apartment, sell to an Owner Occupier or refinance with the banks, who have taken a very restricted view on lending to properties with this use.
The operator going into liquidation, along with the pending release of the new design guidelines, Design WA, which was introduced in May this year created a unique opportunity to engage with the Owners to provide a joint application. Rightly the new guidelines are less prescriptive and more performance based.
This along with the co-ordinated approach of all Owners created the opportunity to allow for the application to be made with some optimism for possible success.
Planner, Aaron Lohman of Element was engaged to run the planning application on behalf of the Owners and the City of Belmont planning officers have been terrific to work with through the entire process.
Some 5 months later we have a planning approval in place and the Owners now have much better control over the future of their investment. Many are nearing retirement age and are considering downsizing into their Ascot apartment, others will rent their apartment out to long term tenants and some might sell, likely to first home buyers and downsizers looking for a new home to live on the banks of the Swan River.
In addition to assisting the Owners and Element with the planning process, Celsius put in place an interim property management offering and have been looking after the management of 40 of the apartments securing the Owners 1 to 3 month leases, providing some income relief whilst the planning process has been undertaken.
The success of the re-purpose of the Sunmoon Resort to The Tide Scarborough gave Celsius the confidence in our ability to provide this level of service successfully.
I’m certainly proud of being able to assist these Owners deliver an outcome we always believed they had from the outset when they first made the decision to invest in an apartment at Ascot Quays.
If you’d like to know how Celsius Property can assist you, please call me on 0411 144 230.
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