A MOVE by the City of Swan to change a design for Farrall Rd but not tell residents has dumbfounded one resident and infuriated another, who said the process followed by the city bypassed real community engagement and it was now harder to access their properties.
The developer of Movida Estate, Peet, has upgraded Farrall Rd to accommodate its new estate and their original plans included building a central median strip in front of the existing houses, and a business, with a number of breaks to allow easy access.
Craig Ericson said Movida Estate by Peet has a website which showed a map of the new road layout, along with the plan for the estate, which showed breaks for driveways, and that was reassuring.
But the city asked Peet to change its plan, and remove most of the access ways in the median strip, and although the revision directly affected residents they were not told about the change.
Mr Ericson said he first became aware of the road works in October 2016, when heavy machinery was seen clearing land on the verges across the road from his house.
But in early November, Mr Ericson noticed there were no breaks in the median strip for people to turn right.
He presumed these sections would be cut out later, as they had been included in the masterplan on the website, but he called the city for more information and the call back Mr Ericson was told he would get never came.
So, he fronted up to the city’s offices a week later and spoke to a lady who said she was only in charge of the road closure, not road planning, but she would get someone to call him.
Again, Mr Ericson said, that call never came and his message on the answering machine to Peet remained unanswered.
Mr Ericson said he eventually tracked down the email address for the supervisor of Wormall Civil, the company actually doing the road, and he managed to get a copy of the median strip design.
“It showed a left in, left out design, which is an ideal solution on a road that has on-street parking, two or more lanes in both directions, and high traffic flows, but Farrall Rd north has none of these,” he said.
“I know it will get busy, but it will never be busier than Gt Eastern Hwy, and I can turn right from Bunnings any time I go there, without any problem, and that’s four lanes and no median.”
A report to council in January this year said Peet’s original drawings had an increased carriageway with two way access, and a central median with openings where existing driveways were to allow for full access.
But city staff reviewed the proposal, and changed the plans after considering the volume of traffic the road currently has and will have after the development, and the changes would make the road safer in future.
The report said although it was standard practice by the city when completing road works to provide affected residents with a copy of the plans for comment before works started on site, in this case the city did not provide that information.
“As this work was being undertaken by the developer and there were some modifications to the design, this practice was not undertaken,” the report said.
“However, residents were given contact details if they wished to obtain further information.”
“If a plan had been provided, and an objection had been received, then the matter would have been referred to council for a decision prior to the design being finalised.”
But Mr Ericson said why were residents only given contact details, and not the heads up that plans had changed?
“Why would anyone contact a developer and protest something that appeared not to be happening?”
City staff met with Mr Ericson on December 9, 2016 to discuss his concerns with the road design and they explained the necessity of the upgrade and median.
The following month the matter was brought to council because of his objection .
Mr Ericison turned up to give a deputation to councillors a week before the council meeting to explain why the new road design was not a good one for residents.
He said he was dumbfounded when he turned up to a council meeting the following week and his Farrall Rd issue was not flagged for discussion by any councillors.
Instead the recommendation to approve the changed design was simply nodded through.
Mr Ericson said the revised median strip with less breaks along it caused problems that would now need to be fixed.
“The family next door, has a special needs school bus that collects their children daily.”
“The bus used to drive down the driveway and drop the children off at their door, now this bus parks on the verge, and waits for a family member to walk up the very long drive and collect the children.”
“This exposes the bus to rear end collisions, and increases the risk of tyre damage to the bus as it now had to climb over the sharper rear edge of the kerb.”
The lady with a disabled child in her care, who asked not to be named, told Echo News putting in the median strip was poor planning and just stupid.
She said a break in the median strip to continue to allow the bus to come in and turn around to pick up her child and then easily go back out again should have been done.
“They didn’t ask us, they didn’t look and they didn’t consider how traffic was moving and how it was going to impact people living here.”
“This wasn’t investigated properly.”
“At one stage they closed the road down – can you imagine a disabled bus trying to four wheel drive on dirt trying to get in here?
Ongoing traffic issues caused by the new road design prompted Midland MLA Michelle Roberts to contact the city about what she said had become an extremely dangerous situation.
“I have been reliably informed that there have been a number of near misses when drivers have been trying to negotiate the U turn around the island,” she said in a letter.
“It would appear to me that the obvious solution to this problem would have been to have started the island further to the north which would have allowed the residents and business full access to Farrall Rd.”
City’s acting chief executive officer Jim Coten said a road safety audit was now underway and city staff were arranging a meeting between Mr Ericson and the auditor as part of this review.
“It is anticipated that a formal report with the findings will be presented to the city in mid to late August.”
Mr Coten said the city would review and action the recommendations of the audit accordingly.
By Rashelle Predovnik