TWO prime Canning Bridge precinct sites will be converted into parks after Melville councillors decided on Tuesday night that hemmed-in residents needed the space more than the council needed the revenue from developing them.
One of the sites stretches between The Esplanade and Kishorn Road and previously housed the Melville Senior Citizens Centre until it was demolished about a decade ago. The vote to turn it into open space was a wafer-thin 7/6 and went against a staff warning it’s “not well suited” to being a park.
The other 4056sqm site is a cluster of properties on Moreau Mews, which were purchased by the council as a potential development site around the time it adopted the Canning Bridge Activity Centre Plan. Its vote was a more resounding 10/3, but again went against staff hopes to retain at least a portion of the site for making money.
Mt Pleasant resident Joanne Ciccorelli led a petition to convert the Senior Citizens site into a park and gave a deputation at Tuesday’s council meeting, telling councillors she had to drive to take her grandchildren to a decent park when they visited.
“I know we are encouraged by planners not to use our cars, but how can we do this if we don’t have a park within a five-minute walk,” Ms Ciccorelli said.
A staff report had recommended that the nearby foreshore at Apex Park would cater for open space needs for a few more years along with upgrades to streetscapes and open spaces, but Ms Ciccorelli says that’s not feasible.
“This section of Canning River is unsuitable for a kids’ playground because it floods and there’s no room for play equipment,” she said, adding the nearby rowing club also used much of the grass during race days.
“The area we would like is so much better for elderly people and their families.”
Ms Ciccorelli said the council’s own consultation on the Canning Bridge Activity Centre found that 84 per cent of its residents were concerned about the lack of open space – more than cared about the parking situation.
“We need the land now,” she said.
Ms Ciccorelli thanks councillors Margaret Sandford and Clive Ross for championing her cause, saying they’d spend “two years just trying to get it on the agenda”.
Cr Sandford noted that apart from the petition and a successful motion at the council’s annual general meeting of electors climate action group Melville City Action had also urged the conversion of the site.
“There were 1300 signatures on that petition, and I don’t believe one councillor’s view that it’s just people preserving their views,” she said.
“Nobody has been lobbying us to build more nursing homes or other commercial uses – nobody; except maybe the staff.”
“Public open space has a value … effectively we are being told parks area a waste.”
Cr Sandford said staff had also been given several years to find alternative sites in the precinct but had turned up nothing, and it was pointless waiting for a developer who might be interested in giving up half their site as a park for a few extra storeys.
There was a fair bit of talk about the garden spaces provided on the podiums of several of the new highrise towers, with councillor Nick Pazolli wondering whether Ms Ciccorelli had approached the Cirque developers to see if they’d include a kids’ playground in its second stage, but Cr Sandford countered that it was only available for residents – who might also at times want to leave their building to recreate.
A staff report found the Moreau Mews site could have earned the council $580,000 each year if only 25 per cent was converted to a park.
by STEVE GRANT