MAIN ROADS must seek state parliament’s support to excise A-class reserve land for its $120 million High Street widening project.
Fremantle council threw a spanner in the works after voting Thursday not to support the project nor to agree to voluntarily hand over 36,000sqm of A- and C-class reserves under its control, which include the FERN site and two golf courses.
Main Roads wants to build six lanes from Carrington Street to the Stirling Highway intersection at High Street. It has been consulting with the council and locals for years but has failed to win support for its preferred option.
Construction is expected to commence mid-2015, with both state and federal government funding committed to the project.
Before the surprise council vote, Main Roads had started a “compulsory acquisition process” in which the council would agree to hand over the land without a fight. It asked council to endorse the project and “consent to excision”.
Mayor Brad Pettitt says there is a strong sense in the council the road does not have the support of the community: “It felt the scale of the project was over the top,” he told the Herald. But he fears the council’s decision may lead to the forced excision of more land than Main Roads is seeking.
Freo Road 2 rail spokesman Louise Edmonds says the council vote is a big win for people campaigning against the widening. It also shows the council will not be bullied into a decision by Main Roads when so many ratepayers are affected.
“Potentially we risk losing half-a-million dollars in compensation if we don’t give over the land voluntarily,” she says. “But people will fight this.”
by CARMELO AMALFI