Planning reform call

MELVILLE residents feature prominently as a small but resolute band of citizens from across the city fronted Parliament House on Wednesday calling for “community first” planning.

The eclectic crowd was made up of two dozen community groups who are all disillusioned in some way with the state’s planning scheme.

Along with Melville folk unhappy about a proposed wave park and super-density development around Canning Bridge, there were Bayswater folk fearing they’ll lose the soul of their town centre, the Mt Lawley Society which fears historic streetscapes aren’t being protected and protestors from “Save Doubleview” opposing state government plans to “shoehorn” in a private school on a local public primary.

There wasn’t a lot of love for the state-controlled Development Assessment Panels.

Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association member Gavin Waugh says the Local Government Act needs to be rewritten to prevent councils from becoming dictators.

Manipulation

He says the act must explicitly define “community” and “local government” to avoid manipulation.

“In its current form the content of the WA Local Government Act holds no capacity to even measure success, nor failure, let alone provide leadership or guidance,” Mr Waugh told the crowd.

Bayswater planner Greg Smith attended because he said the state was blind to the number of trees being lost to infill.

“I’m here arguing for the trees,” he said. “We’ve completely lost sight that our amenity is dependent on trees.”

Mr Smith says it’s been several years since a report exposing Perth’s poor canopy cover was released, so WA’s Planning Commission “can’t claim ignorance…with the knowledge of the urban heat island effect and the impact on people’s health, their failure to do anything about it amounts to negligence”.

The state planning department is in the midst of a reform: it’s currently reviewing more than 240 submissions that were made in response to a green paper proposing a “modern planning system”.

by DAVID BELL and STEVE GRANT

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