By Claire Ottaviano
THE most destructive bushfire to ever hit the eastern region has ignited fury against a proposed 4000-resident development in the Perth Hills.
The northern edge of the 555ha North Stoneville townsite came within 7km of the inferno as it burned west from Wooroloo through Gidgegannup, destroying 71 homes.
In August 2019, the Shire of Mundaring recommended the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) reject North Stoneville Structure Plan 34 (SP34) with bushfire risk as one of the leading reasons for refusal.
The recommendation was upheld when the WAPC rejected SP34 in August 2020 on the same grounds.
The rejection is now part of a State Administrative Tribunal appeal by developer Satterley and the landowner the Anglican Church.
At the time of the appeal Shire president John Daw called on Planning Minister Rita Saffioti to intervene and stamp-out the last-ditch effort to get SP34 approved.
Now, community group Save Perth Hills (SPH) are going one step further, calling on Premier Mark McGowan to step in and lead changes to State planning in bushfire prone areas, and, to put an end to SP34.
“With the changing climate we have to look at the urbanisation of particular areas in Australia, and to look at how we build communities that are safe from fire, because it’s a way of life in this country,” Save Perth Hills chair Jeremy Hurst told Echo News on Tuesday.
“If we were really leading the world in how to build in bushfire prone areas it wouldn’t look like what it looks like now.
“Cookie cutter urban estates are not the answer.”
He said while there were other residential developments planned for the hills, the size and scale of North Stoneville would set a precedent for the future.
“We had the Black Summer of Fires last year and you’d think that would be enough to think we have to learn some lessons,” he said.
“We are demanding the Premier calls in North Stoneville.
“You have to say enough is enough, we should all be making data driven decisions, this would be a data driven decision.
“There’s nothing more compelling than seeing a 60km fire front bearing down towards you.”
The appeal’s next mediation meeting is Wednesday, February 10.
Shire President John Daw said he believed it was past the time for mediation.
“Council used State Planning Policy 3.7, Planning in Bushfire Prone areas as our key mechanism to defeat [SP34] and Council’s position has not changed,” he said.
“It’s as strong as ever.
“There’s no room to mediate, it’s very black and white.”
The objectives of the policy are to “avoid any increase in the threat of bushfire to people, property and infrastructure” and that “the preservation of life and the management of bushfire impact are paramount”.
“I think the State Government is allowing the statutory process to take its course,” Cr Daw said.
“Our position is very strong as a Council… it is not appropriate to put that development in that place.
“It’s an old concept.”
See also last week’s Documentary proposal deferred