A PERTH Hills food truck owner is taking matters into his own hands by lobbying local and state government over plans to revitalise Lesmurdie’s Lions Lookout but says his ideas have so far gone unsupported.
Nicolas Smeets, owner of the Travelling Snack Restaurant food truck, has spent four years and $6000 of his own money coming up with designs and ideas for the tourist hot spot which he claims attracts around 2000 visitors a week.
Mr Smeets, who has been operating his food van from the site every weekend since 2016, said a lack of facilities and upgrades was a missed opportunity for the area.
“There is poor lighting, no toilets and no recycling bins, there is not much there,” he said.
“It needs a general upgrade and to be more environmentally friendly.”
Last year Mr Smeets used his own funds to enlist the services of a business consultant to come up with a concept design for the site that includes the construction of a viewing deck, a sea container kitchen and seating, a food truck bay, lighting, toilets, information board and signage.
However, four years after presenting his ideas to both the City of Kalamunda and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH), there has been no movement on his proposal.
“They [City of Kalamunda] aren’t providing much support and I think for how hard it is to get anything done, it deters businesses from investing in the region,” Mr Smeets said.
“I’m quite stubborn and I’ve gotten such good feedback and I think it’s a big waste, the hills are a lovely spot and it’d be nice to get everything together, but it is hard.”
While the City leases and manages the area, it is owned by the state government which has stated it is considering the idea.
“The Department is consulting with the City of Kalamunda who is responsible for managing the land – known as Lions Lookout – for recreation purposes,” a DPLH spokesperson said.
“Under the Land Administration Act 1997, the City’s consent is required to change the existing land tenure and accommodate a commercial use on this land.”
MLA Matthew Hughes is also behind the project, presenting a 400-signature petition in support of the plans to the legislative assembly last year.
“I would like to see the vision to develop the existing tourism facilities at the Lookout… given fair consideration,” Mr Hughes said in his address to parliament.
While Mr Smeets is hopeful that some upgrades will be made to the Lookout, he said he had lost faith in those responsible and was considering taking his business elsewhere.
“Without some of the changes I have recommended, it’s hard for me to consider developing my business in that area,” he said.
“It’s a shame because it has so much potential to be a real tourist hub and myself and many other small business owners could benefit but there just isn’t the support.”
The City of Kalamunda said it welcomes development ideas from the community however, projects are subject to community engagement, available funding (potential community grants), land ownership investigations and technical studies to ascertain the needs and requirements for power, drainage, sewerage, accessibility, community safety, traffic and the like.
By Morgan de Smidt