Phase 1

September 2021

Discussion Groups

Following an online survey in 2019, the Project Team undertook extensive community and stakeholder engagement. During the month of September, the Shaping Sorrento Project Team held a series of meetings with local business owners, near neighbours and local community groups.  In addition, a series of Discussion Groups were held with neighbours and the broader Sorrento Community.  At these meetings, facilitated by Creating Communities, attendees were asked to share their aspirations and concerns for the site.

As part of the workshops, attendees were asked to rank the importance of a variety of Design Principles that were developed from the previous meetings with neighbours, local businesses and groups.  Below is a summary table of the results.  By adding together the Very Important and Important results, we are able to rank the Design Principles by level of importance.

Participants ranked the following as the top five Design Principles relating to the site:

  • Well planned car parking
  • Well managed traffic
  • High quality design
  • Functional design for businesses
  • Building Articulation (I.e. don’t want a bulky boxy building)

The Importance of Design Principles

Ranked by Combined Total of Very Important & Important

In addition to the ranking of Design Principles, workshop attendees shared their aspirations and concerns for the current site. Below are some of the key insights from those discussions.

High quality design is a must

  • The community recognise that the site is past its use-by date and are keen to see some improvement
  • There is appetite for an interesting design sympathetic to the landscape (rather than a box)
  • Ensure that the materials used suit the beachside environment and will weather well
  • There was a view that the apartments should be of a high quality and attract locals wanting to downsize.


  • Parking is a major issue for the current site. The new site should consider an increase in the number of bays for public use and ensure that there is enough for the new residents.

Building height / shape is a concern

  • Many members of the community expressed a concern over a building that looks boxy and bulky suggesting that building articulation be a consideration
  • Some members of the community expressed concern over building height
  • One of the major concerns was regarding the shadowing that may be cast onto the beach and surrounds and the interruption of views of others

Key benefits that the community would like to see on the site:

  • Make the ocean view more available to the public
  • Provide public car parking
  • Include al fresco spaces and bring the outside in with openable doors / windows
  • Shield the public from the traffic and wind
  • Make the public realm useable as a gathering space and make it aesthetically pleasing
  • Include trees, seating, shading elements, lighting, bike racks
  • Resolve some of the issues in the public realm. Eg. bus stop, traffic flow, pedestrian access (particularly to the beach), public toilets, beach showers etc.

Phase 2

October 2021

Design Workshops

Following the Discussion Groups, the Project Team commenced work on developing concepts for what a development may look like on the site.  These designs were informed by the results of the previous engagements and sought to address the design principles. At the same time, they reviewed the proposed designs against what is currently possible on the site under the existing Sorrento Activity Centre Plan.

At two workshops in late October, the Project Team presented two concepts for discussion.   The first (Concept 1) presented a design that met all the criteria of the existing Sorrento Activity Plan.  The second concept (Concept 2) reflected the Design Principles and aspirations for the site that were highlighted throughout the first phase of engagement with stakeholders and the community.

NOTE: Both designs are the same volume, but the volume has been redistributed in Concept 2 to provide a less bulky building and deliver community benefits as per the findings of engagement.

Comparison Design Scorecard

MJA architects presented a scorecard review of the existing site and of Concept 1 and 2 to demonstrate how each scored against the Design Principles.  Below is the scorecard.

Design Concepts

Below are the two concepts presented at the Design Workshops.

Concept 1

(Compliant Current Sorrento Activity Centre Plan)

Features and Benefits

  • Range of shops and hospitality venues
  • Support for local jobs and the economy
  • Height sits within the parameters set out by the existing Sorrento Activity Centre Plan and Residential Design Codes Volume 2


  • No additional parking
  • No indoor and outdoor spaces for people to gather
  • Lack of green space, shading and landscaping (no requirement under SACP)
  • Large footprint, building to the site boundary
  • Bulky and boxy building
  • Interruption to views and lacking view corridors
  • Lacks connection to the surrounding precinct
  • Impact of building bulk on immediate neighbours
  • Does not reflect the Sorrento beach lifestyle

Concept 2

(Proposed New Sorrento Activity Centre Outcome)

Feature and Benefits

  • A key feature of Concept 2 is that it facilitates a number of Community Benefits, none of which would be delivered under the current Sorrento Activity Centre Plan– (See the Community Benefits page).
  • Increased parking for residents and commercial tenants, plus the inclusion of 20 bays to be provided for the public
  • Covered / underground parking
  • Effective traffic management into and out of the site
  • Unique design
  • Building articulation – pushing the height away from near neighbours
  • Making use of the sloping site to create views of the ocean
  • Public greenspaces, shading and landscaping
  • Indoor and outdoor space to gather
  • Elegant building, removing the bulk of previous plan
  • Reducing the footprint of the site to allow for public amenity and open spaces
  • Allows for view corridors for existing neighbours
  • Views of the ocean from cafés and restaurants
  • Better caters for pedestrians and cyclists
  • More reflective of the Sorrento beach lifestyle
  • Integrates with the surrounding precinct
  • Supports local jobs and economy


  • On a portion of the site, the building height is 9 storeys (30m) to remove bulk from the rest of the site and create more amenity

Direct comparison of design concepts: Volume Shift

The volume for both buildings is the same, however, to reduce bulk and scale Concept 2 shifts the volume from around the site to the front of site facing onto West Coast Drive, away from neighbours, resulting in more height in one section of the site.

Current SAC Analysis

Proposed SAC Analysis

Preliminary Community Feedback

During the Design Review Sessions’ we asked participants which Concept they preferred.  Concept 1 (existing Sorrento Activity Plan) or Concept 2 (proposed alternate).  Here is how they responded:

Percentage that preferred Concept 1


Percentage that preferred Concept 2


Percentage that didn’t know or didn’t respond


Phase 3

December 2021 – June 2022

Design Review

Following the Design Workshops, the Project Team further refined the designs which were submitted as a Development Application to the State Development Assessment Unit (SDAU) on 15th December 2021.  Further refinements were made to the designs through discussion and advice from the State Design Review Panel (SDRP) prior to the concept plan.  This has facilitated a design that will be part of formal advertising.

Click here to read the full report


“The Panel has sought to consider whether this proposal delivers tangible improvements on the Sorrento Activity Centre Plan (SACP) from a design perspective. The appropriate transition of scale from the neighboring properties, the provision of a generous public realm, excellent residential amenity and the sustainability commitments significantly exceed what could be contemplated under the SAPC. Many of the positive elements of the development wouldbe unable to be provided with an SAPC compliant development, and in the opinion of the Panel, these elements are considered worthy of the discretion being sought.”

— State Design Review Panel Final Report, May 2022

Phase 4

Advertising for Public Comment

It is estimated that the final design will be available for public comment from mid-June.  To have your say, head to the link here to provide your feedback.