COCKBURN council has rejected the rezoning of the Glen Iris Golf Course into a housing estate with a resounding 9-1 vote.
Last week’s occasionally vociferous council meeting was packed with Jandakot residents in the public gallery as well as a delegation from the Rowe Group representing course owner Eastcourt Property Group.
Residents cheered as the council officer’s recommendation to approve the scheme amendment was voted down by an alternative moved by councillor Chontelle
Stone and championed by colleague Tarun Dewan.
“This is in the interest of all stakeholders; that is the community, environment and the future generations who will be so proud of this decision so that they can enjoy the planet as we did,” Cr Dewan said after drawing on the city’s climate change and urban forest policies to argue against the subdivision.
Cr Stone later told the Herald it had been a tough job getting the amendment prepared, because despite the passion the Jandakot Residents and Ratepayers Association brought to their opposition, the rejection could only be based on the planning rules.
“This is a golf course estate; without a golf course it’s not a golf course estate.
“The amenity and character of this area is dependent on this golf course.
“[Eastcourt] knew that they had to try and demonstrate how their development would uphold the character and amenity of this estate; they haven’t done that.”
Cr Dewan didn’t have much sympathy for the developer’s so-far foiled ambitions, saying Eastcourt “well and truly knew” what they were buying.
“It’s a ‘special use 1’, and special use allows you for recreation places, and one of them is a golf course,” Cr Dewan said.
“They can have a hotel, they can have any office function, convention or whatever.”
That prompted an aside from Cr Stone, who’d argued that the proposed loss of 750 mature trees would damage the city’s urban canopy targets for a decade: “If they don’t want to do anything with it, that’s cool, because it’ll naturally regenerate into bushland,” she said.
Rowe Group general manager George Hajigabriel was booed at the council meeting when he referred to “12-months of up-front community consultation” which had led to key commitments from Eastcourt, including accepting an extra sporting oval in the design despite already exceeding requirements for open space.
Mr Hajigabriel said other commiments included a buffer around the housing, low-density and high-quality construction, replanting more trees, more open space available to all residents, funding new traffic signals on Berrigan Drive and creating a village centre in the development with a supermarket, cafe and shops.
“With over 24 per cent of the site to be set aside as open space, and with a very low density of development being proposed, together with several other key elements, this project will provide a distinctly different and far superior outcome to any normal development,” Mr Hajigabriel said.
The only dissenting vote on the night came from Cr Michael Separovich, who pointed out that while rejecting Eastcourt’s application the council was approving subdivisions elsewhere involving a lot of bulldozers.
“The amount of urban forest that is being lost is staggering,” Cr Separovich said.
“We are in Perth, the urban sprawl capital of the world.
“So if we are relying on the state government and the WAPC to carry out good design guidelines, I think we would actually be better making this decision ourself.”
Andy Thomson is vice president of the Glen Iris Golf Club who’ve been playing at the course for more than 60 years, but now are golfing gypsies trying to find early-morning tee-offs around the metro area before they’re snapped up.
“We went to the meeting on Thursday and the presentation from Chontelle and [Tarun] was absolutely magnificent and they hit the nail right on the head; it’s not just about the golf course, it’s about the community,” Mr Thomson said.
He reckons there hasn’t been the same community connection since the last games were played on the course three years ago: “People are just off doing their own things as opposed to having a focal point.”
JRRA president Leanne Chaproniere said she felt “ecstatic” and “release” after the council’s decision.
“Finally, council can speak up and out loud and say ‘no’,” Ms Chaproniere said.
“This is an amenity for not just the people that live here, but it’s an amenity for golf, it’s amenity for people, it’s amenity for wildlife – for the cockatoos, this is their path.
“This has been such an integral part of us for over 65 years.”
Ms Chaproniere said the JRRA was still nervous because the council’s decision has to go through the WA Planning Commission and planning minister Rita Saffioti’s office for endorsement. She said they hadn’t got a lot of public support from state Labor members.
by STEVE GRANT