Green space must be left for housing
MELVILLE councillor Katy Mair says she is “horrified” the state government has refused to ratify 13 local green spaces as official parks, instead telling the council they must be kept aside for housing.
Cr Mair is also fuming that planning minister Rita Saffioti’s decision to reject the proposed scheme amendment was based on a recommendation from a state planning department staffer under delegation, meaning the council didn’t get the opportunity to argue its case before the WA Planning Commission.
The saga has its genesis back in 2016 when Melville’s planning scheme was updated and nine green spaces were rezoned to residential without anyone really noticing.
It came to light when an expansion-hungry aged care facility tried to purchase one of the sites, which is owned by the state government, but the council kyboshed the deal by refusing to rescind a management order giving it control over the site.
At the same time it decided to investigate what green spaces had been changed to residential; there were nine, while another 12 had been zoned residential before the scheme update.
In March last year the council voted to pursue a scheme amendment securing 20 sites as open spaces, but Ms Saffioti earlier this month ordered that 13 government-owned sites be left alone.
They include Harry Clemens, Norm Godfrey, Reg Seal, Ces Deceau, Jack Martin, Marguerite Smith, and Laurie Withers reserves; Jack Jeffery, Hugh Corbett, Pitman and Prosser parks and two unnamed sites.
“I am horrified that 13 of our parks and reserves requested by residents and the council to be zoned public open space will be zoned residential,” Cr Mair said.
“These are parks that our community knows and loves and have been available for public use for many years. Now all that may change.
“Council’s request for these parks to be public open space did not go through the usual channel of the WAPC which would have allowed for deputations but through delegated authority signed off by the minister.
“This shows a lack of the state government’s consideration for the community’s need to have public open space within a reasonable distance from their homes.
“Since the City of Melville is shouldering a huge amount of infill, this public open space is needed more than even now and especially in the future.
“This calls for community action. Residents need to email, phone or visit local state politicians and express their views.
“Alternatively sign a petition appropriately addressed to Parliament and get as many of their neighbours to sign it. Hopefully the minister will change her mind.”
The Herald understands there’s little scope under the WAPC’s rules for the minister to change her mind, meaning the council might have to undergo the whole process again if she indicates a change of heart.
The Herald contacted the state planning department for comment but close to our printing deadline, so a response is not expected until the next edition.
by STEVE GRANT