THE Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said she will look at options to refine the planning system to better reflect what communities want after Bellevue residents wrote to her to express their devastation at not being able to stop a service station being put at the back of the Darling Range Hotel.
Allowing a petrol station at the back of the Darling Range Hotel to be even considered has got Bellevue residents questioning why they bothered to work with the City of Swan to develop a planning policy they say should have sent the developers packing from the onset.
A significant amount of ratepayer funds was spent to consult with the community and create the Bellevue East Land Use Study (BELUS) which was adopted by Council in 2013 and had flagged the site for a neighbourhood centre.
Fighting to save the Darling Range Hotel from demolition has also left the Bellevue Residents and Ratepayers Association (BRRA) questioning the value of a planning clause, Amendment 122 which had been voted in by council exclude petrol stations on June 7.
That amendment still needed to be ratified by the Western Australian Planning Commission but residents thought it would be considered by the Development Assessment Panel (DAP).
Simply because, under the current planning act, the DAP must include any other proposed planning instrument the local government has adopted in its decision making.
But that amendment was ignored by a Metro East Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) who met on July 7 because it had not been ratified by the Planning Minister.
Labor’s election promise of a railway station in Bellevue was also not considered because it had not been put in writing and it wasn’t included on Labor’s Metronet plan.
The application for a development of a service station on lots 405, 406 and 407 Great Eastern Hwy has been the subject of three JDAP hearings.
A proposal to demolish the hotel, was rejected at the first two hearings but this month, in its third meeting on the issue, the JDAP voted to approve a modified plan to keep two-thirds of the 112-year-old Darling Range Hotel.
BRRA secretary Dianne Arvino said there was no guarantee the rest of the hotel would be kept in the future and no restoration was going to take place or was asked of the developer by the panel.
Ms Arvino said the association was outraged at this decision.
“In a stroke of ad hoc planning, the future neighbourhood centre is discounted, the proposed Bellevue train station is called an untruth and approval is given for one third of the historic hotel to be demolished, with a petrol station shoved against the remnants of the heritage building.”
Ms Arvino said an integral part of the BELUS Policy was now destroyed following the latest JDAP decision.
She said the Bellevue Residents and Ratepayers Association has now been left wondering whether the city has the capabilities to deliver the recommendations of the BELUS policy adopted by council nearly four years ago – a policy that had promised to revitalise the suburb by ending conflicting industrial and residential uses.
Ms Saffioti said she understood the community concern about the DAP process.
“My office has had meetings with community members about DAPs and we are looking into possible options to refine the system,” she said.
“This particular situation highlights my concern that local planning schemes are not always reflecting the desires of the surrounding community.
“There are many cases where communities are not aware of what is and isn’t permitted in local planning schemes until an application comes to light.”
By Rashelle Predovnik