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The former CSIRO building

Helena Valley lifestyle village gets another no

By Claire Ottaviano

A BID to convert a former CSIRO research building into a lifestyle village received another nail in the coffin this week after Mundaring council rejected an amendment to allow kitchenettes in the living quarters.

The amendment is predated by Council’s December 2019 rejection of a development application to use the existing building in Helena Valley as a 16-unit residential building.

It was the second time council had rejected the application, it returned to Council because the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) ordered it to reconsider a revised application after the first rejection.

As the development application is still before SAT for a full hearing, Shire administration cautioned the Council against making decisions that would conflict with or compromise its “otherwise strong stance against the proposed development”.

“Officers respect that Council previously decided to refuse the Residential Building application based on concerns regarding its compatibility with the zone and rural setting,” the council report said.

“Supporting an amendment that intends relaxing the definition of a residential building would therefore be [one] directly inconsistent with Council’s recent decision and [two] may compromise its ability to successfully defend its decision at SAT.”

Fyfe Street resident Helen Addison has been vocal in her opposition.

“I am pleased the Shire councillors took a consistent approach to reject amendment 10 as they rejected the residential building application in December, but am mindful that we are no closer to a resolution with regards to the proposal to redevelop the former CSIRO site into multi-resident accommodation,” she said.

“There can be no resolution until the conclusion of the State Administrative Tribunal process.”

In response to resident’s opposition in Residents riled over proposed lifestyle village at former CSIRO site (Echo News, February 21) and the Shire’s previous rejections, landowner Mike Donnes told Echo News in February that residents and the Shire’s perception and fear over the building use was incorrect.

“The building, which used to be owned and operated by CSIRO as labs, is a solid and substantial building, and we are very proud to be promoting sustainable reuse of existing structures,” he said.

“We could have turned it back into labs and leased it to a private company but I believe it is better suited to mature aged accommodations.

“We intend it to be a residential land use, promoted predominantly to older residents of the Hills, wanting to downsize in a rural-residential environment.

“We think it gives choice to people to live within their community as they get older.

“The purpose of the current scheme amendment is to allow us to put proper kitchenettes into the proposed apartments.

“In short this will be a great opportunity to allow people to remain in the district and not be forced to move out of the area as their personal circumstances vary with age.”

He said the decision is inconsistent with the Shire’s Foothills Growth Strategy which supported and encouraged the investigation into reuse of the building.

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