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Kalamunda MLA Matthew Hughes addresses the crowd at Monday's community rally.

Kalamunda urged to seek loan to save Heritage Trail

KALAMUNDA MP Matthew Hughes believes the City of Kalamunda should negotiate a loan with the State Government to purchase land under the threat of development on Schmitt Road to save the Kalamunda Heritage Trail.

More than 250 people attended a community rally on Monday, called by Mr Hughes, after it was revealed the Western Australian Planning Commission plans to sell lots 23, 24 and 50 on Schmitt Road – land the Kalamunda Heritage Trail runs though.

Mr Hughes has spearheaded the campaign to save the land, writing to planning Minister Rita Saffioti on October 6 requesting she put an urgent hold on the sale of the land, valued at $1.5 million.

That hold remains in place but provides no certainty over the future of the land.

Mr Hughes led a walk-through of the land following the community rally, and speaking to Echo News he said there were three options moving forward.

“It could be that the Minsiter doesn’t see the value of the heritage trail the way we see it, which would not be a good outcome,” he said.

“The State Government could transfer the land to the City of Kalamunda, or the other option could be is that we look at the ability of the City to purchase the land.

“During the walkthrough, we had the City CEO Rhonda Hardy with us, as well as representatives from the WAPC and the Minister’s office.

“I spoke with the CEO and said look, this is the local member flying a kite, how would the local authority respond to the prospect, if we could negotiate this under favourable terms, a loan to acquire the land.

“Everything hinges around the saleable terms, both in terms of the interest that would be attached to the interest on the loan.

“This is just me speaking, not the government or the City, but if we could get a loan from Treasury over a five year term on minimal interest, that may be something we could negotiate on.”

The City has tried repeatedly since 1995 to acquire the land or have it rezoned for recreational purposes.

Every time that request has been refused, however the City has never tried to purchase the land.

The City would not confirm if this was an option they were willing to consider, however at the City’s audit committee on Tuesday night, deputy mayor Dylan O’Connor moved a motion calling on the City to once again write to Minster Saffioti, requesting the land be rezoned as parks and recreation.

The WAPC confirmed the sale of the land was on hold while it works with the City to determine a suitable outcome.

About Liam Ducey

Liam Ducey is an experienced journalist, having worked in print media in Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Port Hedland, Bunbury and across the metropolitan area, as well as online for several Fairfax Media mastheads. His reporting has seen him awarded the 2013 Clubs WA award for Best Club Media Story and the Western Australian Football Commission Umpiring Media Award in 2014. He was a finalist in three categories in the 2018 WA Media Awards and is not at all salty that he didn't win at least one. He's recently had a baby girl, Emilia, with his wife Roselyn and has lost all concept of time and sleep.

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