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Helen and Terry Quaife had to fight tooth and nail for their forever-home in Guildford after local councillors fought against its approval, despite it meeting every benchmark.

Resistance to home baffles Guildford couple

A GUILDFORD couple are warning new arrivals to the heritage-listed suburb to do their research and not expect a warm welcome after being put through the wringer over their home.

Terry and Helen Quaife’s “forever-home” was approved by the City of Swan council last week, despite the best efforts of Midland/Guildford ward councillors and the Guildford Association to reject the design for their two-storey  home at 170 Swan Street West.

Mrs Quaife said they saw the suburb as the perfect mix of rural and city life.

After buying the vacant block, they began to do their research on the approvals process to build their home.

“I’m a country girl and my husband is a city boy, he doesn’t like the ocean, I love the rural side so Guildford was the perfect spot,” she said.

“We knew we had a lot of hoops to jump through from the heritage side of things, so we made sure we had everything absolutely in order, we did everything the City of Swan needed, we ticked every box.”

That commitment went as far as changing the façade of the house and adding an extra window to the property to satisfy the Heritage Council of WA and engaging Griffiths Architects to conduct a Heritage Impact Assessment.

However problems quickly began to emerge, not with planning authorities or statutory requirements, but with local councillors and members of the Guildford Association.

Terry and Helen invited their three Midland/Guildford ward councillors to visit the site, but none were able to attend, although Cr Claire Scanlan was able to meet them at council offices.

“We wanted to explain our development, our vision and show them what our intent was.
  “Cr Scanlan and Cr Kiely urged us to meet with the Guildford Association and we decided we didn’t need to, because Cr Kiely is the secretary so in effect we already had.”

Soon after that meeting, a nine-page report written by Guildford Association executive member Patrick Irwin, highly critical of the development, appeared in letterboxes in the street.

Mr Irwin also gave a deputation at the agenda forum prior to the council meeting, strongly objecting to the development, and the public consultation saw 49 of 55 submissions rejecting the design.

At the council meeting Cr Johnson moved the motion to reject the proposal,  despite the officer’s recommendation to approve the development.

Cr Johnson said that even though new developments in Guildford should be of their time, according to the Guildford Conservation Precinct Policy, the Quaife’s home would not be identifiably a 21st century home.

“There is no reason we cannot have a modern house on this site, but not this particular design,” he said.

Every Midland/Guildford ward councillor, as well as Crs Catalano, Richardson, Kiely and Zannino, supported the refusal, which was voted down 7-8.

Helen believes the attempt to reject their home was driven by Cr Johnson and the Guildford Association, and she has a message for anyone looking to move to Guildford.

“People who are planning to move to Guildford and build, or even redevelop, they need to realise they aren’t going to get support from local councillors – and councillors who live locally – and they won’t get support from Guildford Association, it’s as simple as that.

“We complied with every policy required of us, with every government body that required those policies, and these councillors felt they could just ignore that.

“We bent over backwards to comply with everything that was asked of us, and councillors who are supposed to support their local community, who didn’t engage with us on any level, just blindly objected for reasons that are simply invalid.

“We’ve been put through the wringer, and we’re over the moon our home was eventually approved but the process has been exhausting.”

Cr Johnson said that despite not meeting Helen and Terry at the site, he had been in detailed contact with them via email and over the phone.

“I have spoken to them on the phone and I did meet with them at the Agenda Forum,” he said.

“I haven’t been to the site with them, but I’ve been to the site on many occasions, I’ve spoken to them on many occasions, I’m familiar with all the plans, I’ve read it very carefully.

“I’m sufficiently across it.

“If I go to the site all I’m seeing is the grass.

“I know what it looks like, I’ve been there discussing it with other people.”

Mrs Quaife said Cr Johnson had contacted them once by phone and sent one email.

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Echo News gives readers an alternative to other media outlets in WA and enjoys a very high rate of readership in its distribution area. Our Echo News team are a small group of devoted individuals who work hard to give the local community an easy to read, yet intelligent mix of local community stories.

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