Letter to the POST – WSA Established 30 June 2012

What will it take for our Premier Barnett, Planning Minister John Day, and Minister for Environment; Water Bill Marmion and the Liberal Government to respond to the growing wave of fear, anger and alienation across the western suburbs?

What will it take for them to acknowledge just how much we resent the erosion of our democratic rights and threats to our communities and built and natural environment?

Do they really feel they can go on treating us with utter contempt and making derogatory remarks about our ‘demographics’ and unwillingness to embrace change whenever we express our views?

Fourteen thousand of us signed petitions against the Cottesloe beachfront development and 11,000 regarding the Perth Waterfront Development and rerouting of Riverside Drive. The electors made 800 submissions against the five-storey Waratah Avenue Development in Dalkeith.  Subiaco has been overwhelmed with protests against high-rise developments. We have written to our public representatives. All to no avail. Continue reading

Waratah Avenue, Dalkeith

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Western Suburbs Alliance [updated December 2, 2012

Waratah Avenue

In late 2007, City of Nedlands released a draft planning proposal to rezone and redevelop both sides of Waratah Avenue between Adelma Road and Robert Street and parts of Circe Circle and School Road, Dalkeith. The proposal included five storey developments, 2.4 kilometres of commercial “shop front”, small bars, fast food outlets, amusement parlours, taverns, etc.

People Against Density Dalkeith (PADD), a group of approximately 650 residents/electors of the Dalkeith Ward formed to voice community opposition to the unacceptable aspects of these proposals. Over 800 submissions (from a total of 1650 households) were lodged opposing the proposals, extremely well attended public meetings were held and numerous letters of protest were written to the local newspapers. Continue reading

Community place shaping and place making

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Western Suburbs Alliance

London architect Bernard Hunt has observed, ”We are good at putting up buildings, but we are bad at making places.”

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Brian Dollery and Bligh Grant observe that the empowerment of local authorities and local communities through the devolution of local planning powers now being re-introduced in NSW echoes the ‘place-shaping’ approach to local government reform developed by the Lyons Inquiry into Local Government in England in 2007.

Creating communities involves far more than buildings and infrastructure. It is the residents that bring a place to life and help it to gain its own particular identity. However, much more is known about the physical and environmental challenges involved in development how to plan, design and places that enable residents and visitors alike to share common interests, agree on local priorities and work together to create a “there there” and bring pleasure and creativity and vibrancy to these areas.

Place shaping” or “place-making” is local groups working together to define, build and develop spaces that foster social and economic development and community cohesiveness, provide services that meet local preferences and are thus desirable places to live and work. It involves the diminution of central and state government oversight, encourages a far stronger role for political and administrative leadership at the local level, and advocates public-private partnerships and community participation in service delivery and design. And councils open consultations with residents, giving local people more say over their environment. What results is “place-branding” which can contribute to social and economic development.

Such an approach is clearly not welcomed by the property development lobby.

As Dollery and Grant observe, while local councils are obviously not perfect in representing the views of all members of any community, they do have the unquestioned democratic legitimacy to make local planning decisions on behalf of, and in conjunction with, the local people.

Link to Future Communities

State of Siege

State of Siege is a hard-hitting 55 minute documentary produced by Tropic of Oz Independent Films that tracks the conflict between development and urban conservation in NSW. It shows how, steeped in a culture of political donations, modern politics threatens the basic tenets of democratic rights and raises serious questions about the powers and influences of developers.

In 2005 the NSW Labor government amended the planning law to allow developers of large projects to bypass local government approval altogether and apply directly to the State government for what in practice amounted to a rubber stamp, since almost no such applications were ever rejected. Earlier hard-won planning reforms were whittled away, leaving landowners and local councils powerless to fight against destructive and unsympathetic development.

As environmentalist and businessman Dick Smith says in this video, “Rezoning a person’s land is tantamount to stealing it because they will have no choice but to sell to the developer who puts up two ugly apartment blocks on either side of them.”

The documentary is set in Sydney, but it carries a powerful message which is relevant here in WA. It shows how the State and local levels of government affect our lives directly in a way the Federal Government cannot.

Copies of the video may be obtained by emailing one of the film’s producers, Dennis Grosvenor, dennisgrosvenor@mac.com or by phoning him on 02 9419 3314 or 042 158 1157. There is a charge of $25 towards recouping the production costs.