THE City of Kalamunda has backed away from forging ahead with the potential rezoning of a portion of Wattle Grove, instead electing to engage in extensive community consultation following a backlash from local residents.
The backlash was prompted when the community caught wind of a feasibility study into the potential industrial rezoning of a section of Wattle Grove.
The study was largely mandated by the March 2018 adoption of the Western Australian Planning Commission’s North-East Sub-regional Planning Framework, a 94-page document that aims to establish a long-term, integrated planning framework for land use and infrastructure to guide future growth across the sub-region.
Wattle Grove is specifically identified in the document as an urban investigation area that required further detailed planning prior to consideration for any rezoning.
However it is also listed, in a sub section entitled Industrial centres, as a location that has been identified for potential future general industrial use.
Despite the release date of the NESPF, the City had been working on the feasibility plan since September 2017 – without consulting residents in the area.
The officer’s comment noted that despite the site being identified as urban expansion, land zoned light industry or industrial development can be allocated under an Urban Metropolitan Regional Scheme zoning.
The recommendation was to continue with the next phase of planning based on three recommended options detailing the boundary, land use and statutory processes, with the land use to be residential and industrial development.
However acting Mayor Dylan O’Connor moved an alternative motion to commence immediately with community consultation before proceeding any further, which was passed by council unanimously.
While community consultation is not a statutory requirement for a feasibility study, in his reasoning for his alternate motion acting Mayor Dylan O’Connor admitted the City had possibly erred by not consulting or notifying the community regarding the study.
Kalamunda Ratepayers Association member Nat Coppin said the decision couldn’t be described as a win for Wattle Grove residents.
“It’s too early to say it’s a win, it’s just part of the process,” he said.
“Unfortunately the City of Kalamunda have a history of making decisions without adequate community consultation, but that said they have improved their consultation process over the last twelve months.
“It was a wise decision to defer it for public comment because it is a passionate issue, but I think given that the state government is willing to invest money in tourism within the hills and that particular area is seen as a bit of a gateway to the hills… to put an industrial area or to turn it into high density residential is a mistake.”
Echo News sent the City of Kalamunda questions regarding the potential rezoning, community consultation and the process moving forward.
The City failed to respond to the questions by deadline.