By Rebecca Peppiatt
CITY of Kalamunda councillors were heckled at Tuesday night’s council meeting as a controversial motion to endorse development proceedings in Wattle Grove South was approved nine votes to two.
In a lengthy meeting that saw deputations from a packed gallery of passionate locals, councillors were set with the difficult task of deciding the future of 106ha of the south western portion of Wattle Grove South, also known as the Crystal Brook Concept Plan.
The project has divided residents of Wattle Grove for decades, with some keen for the opportunity to subdivide current properties in the region and look forward to future development, with others fiercely concerned about the environmental impacts of the project.
Hesperia Projects, the applicant at the helm of the development, spoke previously before council about plans to sympathetically transform the parcel of land bounded by Tonkin Highway, Welshpool Road East, Crystal Brook Road and the City of Gosnells local government boundary.
The company has plans for about 1000 homes in the style of Cedar Woods in Bushmead near Helena Valley.
Cr Janelle Sewell gave an impassioned speech to fellow councillors, seconding the motion moved by Cr Geoff Stallard.
“I am extremely disappointed that environmental arguments are being used here as a way to manipulate council and manipulate them to a decision,” she said.
“It disgusts me.”
Cr Sewell said she did not believe the proposed plan would negatively impact the environment and instead believed it could be enhanced by the sustainable plan put forward by Hesperia.
“A lot of the trees in here are introduced exotic species,” she said.
“That does not benefit the environment.”
Cr Ritchie made an equally emotive speech against the motion, stating she felt driven to speak out in defence of the wildlife that would be lost if the development went ahead.
“I feel compelled to bear witness to those that cannot defend their homes,” she said.
“I bear witness for all those who do not thrive, or who cannot survive in an urban landscape.
“I bear witness and I will weep for their loss.”
Cr Ritchie said she believed this would be the beginning of more urbanisation in the area.
“It would be naïve to think that if we support this motion that the urbanisation across the foothills and lower scarp, will stop at Crystal Brook Road,” she said.
“I wonder how future generations will judge our actions tonight.”
Mayor Margaret Thomas supported the proposal, stating that she had spoken to a lot of locals who were keen for the plan to go ahead.
“We listen to all of the community, not just the people who come and give deputations but those who do not give deputations but send emails and call us,” she said.
“I support those people who want change and there are a lot more than you think.”