Chipping away

Melville councillor (and WA Party Upper House candidate) Katy Mair and Leeming residents Geoff Harcombe, Lindsay Delahaunty and Alan Brown celebrate tearing up plans to develop housing on part of the Melville Glades Golf Club.

LEEMING residents have won a messy 10-year battle to stop a housing development on the Melville Glades Golf Club.

At their February meeting, Melville councillors voted to formally end discussions with state government developer Development WA about shifting part of the golf course onto a contaminated tip site and converting the good soil of the fairways into a 500-home estate.

The decision delighted the convenor of the residents’ group which has chipped away for years against what at times seemed insurmountable odds.

“This decision by the council will delight many residents in Leeming, especially those surrounding the golf course,” Public Open Space Protection Group convenor Lindsay Delahaunty said.

“Most purchased or built their homes specifically to take advantage of the large semi-rural public open space and protect the abundant flora and fauna present on these C-class reserves, vested with the council for recreation purposes.”

Mr Delahaunty said their ward representatives had enthusiastically backed the swap and former CEO Shayne Silcox once dismissed a 1000-strong petition as mostly out-of-towners – despite his wearing out a pair of sneakers doorknocking neighbours.

He reckons the council was blinkered to the rates windfall and an easy way to fund its obligation to remediate the tip site, but they hadn’t counted on the smarts of the former Joondalup council CEO and his residents’ group committee.

“There was 80 years of local and state government experience between us and we were not going to stand for this,” Mr Delahaunty says of fellow members Alan Brown and Geoff Harcombe.

Mr Brown said the council even tried inducements to get locals on board.

“They offered everyone sweeteners; they were going to everyone around the area saying ‘you could sub-divide your block’, but it didn’t work,” Mr Brown said.

“It would have devalued your block.”

But sensing a change in the air as former mayor Russell Aubrey faced heat over the Alfred Cove wave park, they pushed the golf club issue as an election issue and garnered the support of the new regime. 

But complicating the issue, the city was (and is) still smarting over a decision to hand over the nearby Ken Hurst Park to the state government to create a Bush Forever reserve. The Bush Forever legislation flags compensation for affected landowners, but more than a decade later it’s still bouncing between lawyers.

That’s left the council needing funds to remediate the site so it can be upgraded for other sporting groups.

With the land swap now off the table, staff asked for a master plan for the area to be brought forward so urgent works requested by the sporting groups can be fast-tracked and outside funding sought.

Cr Katy Mair, who backed the residents, said she was surprised the backdown slipped through the council with barely a murmer.

“This has been a thorn in the side of many residents who live in Leeming near the golf club and I am sure they are sighing with relief that the fight to save nine holes of the golf course is finally over.

“Since the Melville Glades Golf Club was established in 1969, there are a lot of mature trees that would have been cut down and the habitat of many birds would have disappeared.”

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