Council dibs on scout hall

Kids not on the X-Box, but out enjoying a bonfire with their Scouting mates on Baden Powell Reserve; not good enough for developers who want to turn it into a driveway. Photo supplied.

A SCOUT group based at Baden Powell Reserve in Ardross is in a battle to save its clubhouse of 70 years from developers and the local council.

The Waylen Bay Sea Scouts and City of Melville have been in a tug of war over the tiny reserve since 2013, as it’s sandwiched between houses bought up by developers who want to build apartments and use it as a driveway.

Bob Peters lives on Millington Street just a block from the reserve and over the years has helped the Scouts with their campaign.

Baden Powell Reserve was amongst 21 reserves rezoned to residential when Melville’s last planning scheme was put together.

But while the council will this coming week vote on switching the other 20 back to parks and reserves, officers have recommended leaving Baden Powell out.

“Baden Powell Reserve is unique in that it provides important strategic opportunities for access and linkages (vehicle and pedestrian) for the Riseley Activity Centre,” the staff report said.

Noting requests from neighbouring landowners to use it as a thoroughfare, the city’s planners argue Baden Powell isn’t a great park because the old houses currently surrounding it don’t offer much surveillance.

Playground

Mr Peters said the park had heritage value, having been established as a children’s playground in 1928, and would be increasingly important as the area’s housing density increased.

He’s collected around 400 signatures calling on the council to rezone it to parkland, and while he’s confident of winning councillors onto his side, he’s worried the scouts that if they lose, no alternative locations have been suggested for the scouts.

Mr Peters said the council’s planners had also tried to justify the land grab by claiming there was another green space 250 metres away, but that turned out to be a mulch-covered verge between two busy roads. 

Central ward councillor Margaret Sandford, elected on a platform of protecting open space, said the developers had other options and their needs didn’t justify ruining a beautiful community space.

“Why should the community sacrifice the reserve for a few houses on Canning Highway,” Cr Sandford told the Herald.

Cr Sandford said the scouts had also been granted a five-year lease over the reserve in 2020, and it would be unfair if they were turfed out before then.

“The Baden Powell Reserve is a fantastic community space where children are learning so many skills; plus where else in the city can you stand around a campfire?” 

Waylen Bay Sea Scout representative Peter Samson said the hall was booked out solidly with all sorts of kids’ and family groups.

“The developers just want land they do not have to pay for – it is just a money grab,” Mr Samson said.

by TANISHA BEARD

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