A PLAN by John Curtin College of the Arts to take over a chunk of bushland for parking has residents up in arms.
The specialist college has had a recent surge in enrolments and now wants to put demountable classes in its existing car park on the corner of Ellen and East Streets.
That will push parking into an area revegetated by community groups nearly 20 years ago after they battled with the education department to keep it from being developed.
Architect Alan Ross was a member of the Friends of Bushy Hill at the time of the planting and is angry over plans to fence the parking area and push out locals who use it for walks.
“It’s not lavish, but it’s ours,” Mr Ross said of the bushland.
He blames poor planning for the move, saying the school should have had a master plan that dealt with the increase in enrolments before they hit.
“Why transportables for a supposed centre of excellence,” he said.
Mr Ross was also angry with the school’s consultation, saying only a handful of neighbours received letters just before the Christmas break when many were getting ready to leave on holiday.
Fellow Bushy Hill friend Jo Taylor was involved in the local precinct with Mr Ross when the bushland was planted and quickly photocopied the school’s letter and circulated it more widely.
Within a week she had 40 letters of complaint that were sent to the school, while a petition generated nearly 250 signatures.
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt and eight of his councillors have also written to principal Mitch Mackay asking him to reconsider.
“It would seem, at a time when a warming climate is a global priority, that the proposal by the school to not accommodate continuous access is counter to the community’s goals,” they wrote in December.
The council has asked the school to keep mature trees and offset any cleared shrubs across the school site.
Education department infrastructure director John Fischer said there wouldn’t be a formal car park in the area and impact on vegetation would be “minimal”.
“Schools always consult with the local community about a proposal to relocate a fence,” Mr Fischer said.
“The school received feedback from four members of the community who were concerned about their access to the school land and the impact that moving the fence may have on the vegetation.
“In response to the feedback, the proposed fence line is being adjusted and the community will have an opportunity to view the new proposal when it is ready.”
Mr Ross said that’s not enough and he wants the fence left exactly where it is.
by STEVE GRANT