Posted on June 25, 2012 by Western Suburbs Alliance [updated December 2, 2012
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.
Over the next three years, PADD negotiated with the City of Nedlands and eventually agreement was reached. Re-zoning would apply only to the existing commercial properties along Waratah Avenue and the height of any new developments would be restricted to 12 metres or three storeys to protect the privacy of nearby residents and maintain the low-rise residential appearance of the street.
What was agreed was overruled by Planning Minister, John Day. He authorised four storey buildings with lofts, (effectively 5 storeys) of 16.5 metres in height or four storeys, plus a full floor of underground parking. This height is now reflected in the City of Nedlands Town Planning Scheme No.2 – Amendment No. 192 (gazetted on 1 March 2012) despite being fiercely rejected by the Dalkeith community. The Minister also overruled the electorate and Council on a number of other issues.
It was not until after the council had reluctantly signed the minister’s directive ‘under protest’, that it came to light that Mr Day owned a $1.4 million investment property opposite the area subject to rezoning. Former Treasurer Christian Porter’s wife also reportedly had a financial interest in a trust that owned a major property subject to the rezoning.
This long-running dispute led to those councillors – including the Mayor – who had considered allowing five storeys being overthrown at the last council election.
The developers propose to install mezzanine floors within the roof space of the 4th floor, thus creating what is effectively a 5 storey development. The community finds this plan totally unacceptable but its hands are now tied by the Development Assessment Panel (DAP) system. Only current confusion over setbacks is delaying this development. The DAP system “provides discretion to the decision maker to vary some design aspects from that prescribed, providing the overall objectives are achieved”. This discretion is limited to car parking, setbacks, land use and side laneways. Council members and the community have no right to challenge building heights, landscaping, rear laneway requirements, public access, the design features, or the impact on neighbouring properties and local amenities.
John Day says “People in [the western suburbs] need to accept the fact that the world is changing.” So much for community consultation! This can happen in your neighbourhood too.