LAURIE WITHERS Reserve in Kardinya has quickly become a lightning rod for anger over the state government’s refusal to enshrine 13 green spaces as official parks.
Fuelling local residents’ fury is that the same government department which recommended planning minister Rita Saffioti refuse a rezoning request and retain them for housing (“State kills off parks plan,” Herald, January 15, 2022) produced its own plan in December showing Laurie Withers as “public open space” to serve a massive density increase including nearby apartment towers.
Kris Warren had been representing residents while the Kardinya District Activity Plan was drawn up by the state planning department, Melville council and the owners of the Kardinya Shopping Centre.
The plan allows for two “landmark” 12-storey buildings and housing up to nine storeys high on the shopping centre site, while the predominantly single-storey neighbouring streets will be a range of two to four storeys.
Ms Warren said the developers had wanted even more density and residents thought they’d had a victory of sorts when the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage pulled it back a little closer to what they’d hoped to see for their neighbourhood.
“We understand the need for minimising urban sprawl, we understand that you need density,” Ms Warren said.
“Within the City of Melville, Kardinya has been shouldering the increasing density to meet state government targets, but it’s been done of the basis of these two parks being retained as open space,” she says, noting the smaller Jack Martin Reserve around the corner faces the same uncertain future.
“How can this happen after you’ve had this planning process which has gone on for the last year and a half?”
Jeanette Grosser’s house is on the corner of the park.
“I have at the moment six magpies, five butcher birds, three mudlarks and two willy wagtails that come in to be fed and talked to every day – twice a day.
“And I also have up to 40 white cockatoos and I have pink and greys and we’ve got rosellas flying around here all the time.
“They live in the park, so if all the big trees go, so will all their nests and everything.”
Melville councillor Katy Mair reckons the residents are spot on.
“These parks provide mental and physical wellbeing for our communities. They also provide a space for our birds. They are like the lungs of our city,” she said.
“If the state government is serious about climate change, they should ensure the parks and reserved are preserved as public open space to reduce the heat in our suburbs.
“More and more people are being squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces with no relief from bricks and mortar if parks and reserves are removed.
“It’s important for our state government to recognise the importance of parks and reserves to the health and wellbeing of our residents, the protection of our flora and fauna and the reduction of heat in our suburbs. “
On Thursday residents met with Bateman MLA Kim Giddens to plead their case for the state to rethink the decision.
“Six local parks and reserves were rezoned public open space and a further park – Robert Henwood Park in Kardinya
– was rezoned public purpose –infrastructure services.
“The remaining state government sites are undergoing assessment for future use and consideration will be given to re-assessing these once this work has taken place.
“The parks can continue to be used and enjoyed by the community exactly as they have been.”
The planning department was still waiting for its response to go through the approvals process when the Herald went to press.
by STEVE GRANT