By Claire Ottaviano
A PROPOSED townsite in the Perth Hills has provoked an overwhelming response from the community, with about 450 submissions recieved one day before the public comment period closed.
Although planned as a residential area since 1994, the 555ha Satterley North Stoneville site caused controversy when public comment on the revised Local Structure Plan opened on December 6, 2018.
The submission period, usually 28 days, was extended over the December holidays to January 10.
The structure plan includes 1350 residential and 60 rural lots, government primary school and private Anglican high school with a population increase of about 4000 people, catering to urban expansion in Perth’s eastern corridor.
Residential lot sizes range from 350sqm to 2000sqm with 70 per cent above 1000sqm.
On January 2, members of the Save Perth Hills group held a rally in protest of what they believe to be the site’s high density housing location in a high bushfire prone area.
Stoneville resident and group advocate Paige McNeil said the group did not accept the high density component of the development was in line with the values of the Mundaring Shire.
“What we’d like to see is an alignment with the existing development and infrastructure here,” she said.
“In the Shire’s 2016-2026 strategic community plan, when they did consultation on the values of the hills, feedback was around retention of the hills lifestyle in a quiet and safe community, respectful to the environment and we can’t see how this high density townsite will achieve those values.”
Satterley operations general manager Brendan Gorringe said the structure plan was updated from the 1999 version to reduce housing density from 1700 to 1410 blocks.
“Satterley is committed to engaging the local community and has worked with the Shire of Mundaring to design a community that is responsive to the character and lifestyle of the hills,” he said.
“In preparing the plan, Satterley organised a community engagement workshop which included 35 representatives from 23 different community groups,” he said.
The site includes more than 100ha of woodland conservation area and 45ha of public open space.
During the Satterley-run workshop in July, participant feedback outlined a range of important values including an active sporting culture, facilities for youth, infrastructure such as ovals, schools and community meetings places as well as “diverse housing types for young people, downsizers and the elderly”.
Mrs McNeil acknowledged the desire for affordable housing options.
“If that is required and supported by the community then the infrastructure needs to be installed prior to the development,” she said.
“If people want different lifestyle options in the fringes of Stoneville then there should be public transport to support young people and aged care facilities for the elderly.”
In response to bushfire concerns Mr Gorringe said the structure plan complied with Department of Fire and Emergency Services bushfire polices.
“It is one of the first communities in the Perth Hills to be designed around best practice in bushfire planning and will, in fact, improve bushfire management in the area through the clearing of degraded vegetation and provision of reticulated water, which can be used for firefighting.”
Save Perth Hills disagrees with the use of recycled waste water for firefighting.
“As a ‘solution’ to this identified problem – Satterley intends that firefighters will use the North Stoneville community’s treated waste-water to battle blazes in the area,” Mrs McNeil said.
“Given the dangers about firefighters’ exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid, or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (firefighting foam chemicals), suggestions to fight fires with waste water will be of particular concern to career fire fighters, our vollies and the Fire Fighters’ Union.
“Fire fighters are only permitted to use ‘potable’ (drinkable) water to fight fires.”
However, a DFES spokesman told Echo News that firefighters would use any available form of water, including from dams and the ocean, to extinguish a fire.
A Shire of Mundaring spokesperson said a diversity of views in support, objection, mixed and with advice or comment had been received.
“Planning proposals are required to be assessed based on the issues raised rather than the number of submissions lodged – it is not a voting-style arrangement,” the spokesperson said.
Submissions will be considered by council in the coming months and then a recommendation made to the Western Australian Planning Commission.