Pause urged on coastal homes

FREMANTLE council has told the WA Planning Commission not to rush into allowing housing in North Fremantle’s old coastal industrial areas until it’s lined up all its ducks.

In response to an application from the owners of a huge tranche of land along Port Beach road that once housed fuel tanks and light industrial factories, the WAPC has flagged rezoning the area from industrial to urban.  

At last Wednesday’s online meeting the council raised concerns about dune erosion through climate change, lack of green space, insufficient facilities to support a growing residential population and the need for a more unified plan once the state-controlled Future of Fremantle committee had reimagined the port city without its container trade.

Prominent environmental advocate Paul Gamblin addressed councillors on behalf of the Leighton Action Coalition, a group advocating for sustainable planning and management of the Leighton and Port coast. 

“Our experience has shown that we can’t take our coast for granted,” Mr Gamblin said. 

For more of his thoughts, see today’s Thinking Allowed, starting on page 4.

Adding to the growing list of concerns about urbanising the area is contamination. 

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of harmful chemicals linked to a variety of adverse health effects. According to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, the former bulk fuel storage sites at 153 Port Beach Road and 14 Leighton Beach Boulevard are considered contaminated.


Cr Andrew Sullivan, who produced a heavily amended motion from the one recommended by staff, said housing was a natural evolution for the site, but he felt it was premature. His motion called for the site to be rezoned to “urban deferred”.

“Nothing is more costly to the city, in terms of dollars, or to the community, than getting coastal planning wrong,” Cr Sullivan said.

“It’s critical that we get the parks and recreation reserve width right for sea level rise and for the recreational space that needs to still be there in 100 years time – not in the ocean, but on land.

“And that’s the thing that hasn’t currently been provided in the proponent’s proposed MRS amendment.”

Cr Su Groome supported his motion: “It is the appropriate tool in our planning system to give the landowner and potential investors some kind of understanding that there is support for those proposed uses but also to give the community confidence that the work that needs to be done has to be done before other work can get started and that the final extent of the area that might be suited for urban [zoning] is still up for question,” she said.

But Cr Sullivan was less impressed by the WAPC’s plans to rezone the McCall centre, just across the border along Cottesloe’s foreshore, also for housing.

Describing it as a “gateway” into Freo, Cr Sullivan said he was “gobsmacked” by the spot rezoning, which threatened to undo decades of planning and promises of making it a regional park to complete a green corridor through the area. 

“Let’s not worry about 32 years of past planning, let’s just worry about what one agency wants to do – we’ll flog it to the highest bidder,” Cr Sullivan told the chamber.


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