RESIDENTS in Hilton are furious after the state housing department dropped designs for an infill development that would have retained two mature marri trees in favour of a whack-it-up model that will see the block levelled.
The department submitted plans for 93A Snook Crescent to Fremantle council in 2019 which were drawn up by the late Fremantle architect Bernard Seeber, and would have resulted in two double-storey units – and two giant marri trees.
But new plans submitted earlier this month have two single-storey units with no space left for the trees; in 2021 housing minister John Carey commissioned 32 new timber-framed homes for Hilton, saying they were quicker to get up so the department could tackle the state’s massive social housing waiting list.
Linda Delaney lives next to the proposed development at 93A Snook Crescent and said the decision was a breach of a memorandum of understanding it signed with the council in 2011 that aimed to preserve Hilton’s “garden suburb” heritage.
“The block is very small for two places and because the MOU gives them permission to put two houses where everyone else can only put one, they are just taking full advantage of it,” Ms Delaney said.
“It’s very sad to see the last of the two marris go; it’s very important and ever-diminishing habitat for the large birds, especially black cockatoos And I have seen black cockatoos up there with their fledglings.”
Adding to residents’ woes, the block over the back fence has also had a Housing make-over which they reckon made it look like a “shitty desert”.
“It had the biggest, massive mature trees and the most diverse large bird wildlife and the just smashed it – the next day it was like a cemetery,” Ms Delaney said.
“We had owls, we had falcons, we had cockatoos, we had hawks, and I know because when I had chickens, they used to come and pick off the babies.
“I mean, they have left not one native tree, not one. These are the last native trees on their patch.”
Ms Delaney said she can’t understand why both units needed two bedrooms and she’s concerned that’ll mean more cars.
She said Hilton had “sucked up” its fair share of social housing already, and the government risked fostering more behavioural problems by ramping up the density and chopping down the amenity.
Hilton ward councillor Ben Lawver wrote to Mr Carey “with a sense of urgency” last week, urging him to rethink the project.
Using Mr Carey’s own words from a Herald article in 2021 that “you can have both” density and a canopy, Cr Lawver said removing the trees on Snook would be “yet another unnecessary subtraction from the very essence that defines our community”.
Cr Lawver also pointed out that the council’s planning policy for Hilton says the suburb “has aesthetic value for its parks, streetscapes, mature trees, areas of indigenous vegetation and birdlife”.
by STEVE GRANT