COCKBURN council has quietly ditched a “local road” through the Roe corridor, but has given the green light to the Cook government’s plans for housing.
Last Thursday the council supported the majority of its strategic planning coordinator’s recommendations which will be fed back to the WA Planning Commission before it releases its finalised scheme amendment to remove the highway from the books.
Deputy mayor Tom Widenbar summed up the mood by saying a blanket “no” to housing might see the council lose any influence on the outcome, and he put forward plans for a “green ecological link” running east to west through the area.
“I’d love the entire area to be rezoned as Parks and Rec,” Cr Widener said.
“But I think we need to be honest here.; the current state government wants to build houses, and they want to build a lot of them.
“I think we have two choices with our submission; we either ask nicely for a few concessions and we hopefully get listened to or we aim for the stars and go against the goals of housing and get ignored.
“One of my personal goals is improving and conserving the environment and I think this recommendation goes a long way to achieving that in this area and I think it’s the best case we can go for.”
Cr Philip Eva successfully moved a minor amendment to keep a sliver of land between Ahern Street and Blackwood Avenue as parkland, preventing the realignment of Forrest Road which would kill off a two-lane “local road” between Carrington Street and Stock Road recommended by the City’s planners. (“Roe by Stealth?,” Herald, September 15, 2023).
The council’s head of development and compliance Lorenzo Santoriello was quick to assuage fears the ecological link could be reinstated as a road reserve.
“An ecological corridor as indicated […] would effectively traverse or go through or in front of residential properties,” he said.
“So, some road in that context probably wouldn’t work from a traffic […] perspective.”
Friends of Clontarf Hill spokesperson Christine Duckham released a statement criticising the council’s decision as not going far enough to protect the natural environment of the area.
“FoCH is disappointed that the City of Cockburn has resisted the opportunity to formally acknowledge the corridor as an asset for the City of Cockburn and City of Fremantle community,” the statement said.
The group has argued that any reductions in greenery would add to the urban heat island effect in Cockburn and says allowing the felling of more bushland contradicted the council’s Urban Forest Strategy.
“Urban forests provide many social and economic benefits.
“Retaining and protecting all the existing remnant vegetation in the Roe 8 (West) and Roe 9 lands is crucial to the retention of a green corridor.
“The restoration of interconnected urban bushland and the creation of new and connected spaces for nature requires a transformation of traditional planning processes and policy innovation,” the statement said.
by THOMAS MORKELL