THE Cook government has added about nine hectares of parkland along Blackwood Avenue and expanded the green space around Randwick Stables in its latest plans aimed at wiping Roe 8 and 9 from the map.
The proposed amendment to the Metropolitan Region Scheme, which also ushers in housing, local parks and a new commercial hub for Hamilton Hill along a 25 hectare strip of the old highway reserve, was due to be released yesterday (Friday July 7) for a three-month consultation period.
When an initial concept plan was released last November a coalition of environmental groups and the Greens were shocked by how much had been earmarked for urban development and called for a green corridor connecting Bibra Lake to South Beach (“Roe warriors fear betrayal,” Herald, November 4, 2022).
While the new plan is short of that aspiration, Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk says that by drawing on skills within the community, she’s confidant green corridors can be achieved.
“There is also a great opportunity to look at well-designed urban use that can harmoniously coexist with natural amenity,” Ms McGurk said.
“The amendment also importantly proposes retention of portions of the corridor that have been identified as having high environmental and heritage value for parks and recreation classification.”
A little wedge of bush between Rockingham Road and Cardigan Street has been preserved to prevent development too close to the heritage-listed Randwick Stables, with manager Alison Bolas previously warning that close neighbours mightn’t find living next to horses as romantic as they’d imagined.
It also protects the horses’ traditional path down to South Beach where they go for early-morning exercise.
More of the base of Clontarf Hill has also been set aside as a recreation reserve, with the state’s planning department noting it was part of a registered Aboriginal heritage site.
The department says in a consultation document that the whole corridor wasn’t set aside as parkland because some areas were more appropriately dealt with by the City of Cockburn as they were of local rather than regional significance.
“Under the MRS urban zoning, the local government can undertake further planning and apply various reservations under its local planning scheme,” the document notes.
“This includes local public open space and environmental conservation reserves.”
Ms McGurk said she supported housing, commercial use and integrating the free-up land with local schools, with Fremantle Christian College, Port School and the Kerry Street School all possibly to benefit from having the cloud of asphalt lifted from their playing grounds permanently.
“Not only are these great places to live, but to be frank, including housing will be the best way to protect the corridor in the future,” Ms McGurk said.
“The proposed urban zone will facilitate further planning at the local level to identify areas appropriate for local open space, recreation, private education, commercial, mixed use and residential development.”
Hamilton Hill resident Ana Beaumont, a senior policy officer at the state Department of Communities and a former adviser at the Road Safety Commission, submitted an extensive “Connectivity Plan” during the consultation period.
Ms Beaumont and husband Andrew Bodlovich say they share concerns about the current and future environmental impacts on the corridor, but don’t believe it’s a “zero-sum game of development v conservation.
“If done well, conservation can be achieved at the same time as addressing a range of built environment, housing and transport pressures,” they said in a joint release.
“Houses and corresponding infrastructure are currently being built in Hamilton Hill in an ad-hoc way, whether we like it or not.
“The rezoning of Roe 8/9 represents a real opportunity to pause, and to think about how we can build better, how we can make the area safer, more enjoyable and accessible for residents of all ages and abilities.
“There is a great opportunity to create community, stakeholder and expert design options that could sustain ecological needs, meet housing demand and create a more people and active transport-friendly environment and we need to be open to this.”
The amendment and submission details are up on the WA Planning Commission website at http://www.wa.gov.au/roe-8-9
by STEVE GRANT