THE City of Swan council have likely signed the death warrant for an aged care development in the Swan Valley, unanimously endorsing a recommendation for the Outer Metro Joint Development Application Panel (JDAP) to refuse the development.
Developer Gordon Tucker said he is bitterly disappointed and described the City’s decision as a kick in the guts to both himself and his investors, who have poured more than half a million dollars into the development in an effort to get approval.
His quest to develop the aged care facility dates back to 2016, when he made an application with the City of Swan for a change to the Swan Valley’s Local Planning Scheme 17 (LPS17) that would allow his land on Dale Road to be used for a retirement village.
While the City backed his application, the Western Australian Planning Commission did not, and without the proper zoning his development application would never succeed.
His land is located in the Swan Valley Rural Zone, with “aged or dependent persons dwelling” listed as an x use – use not permitted, despite the land never being used for any form of agriculture.
In July-August 2014 Catalyse Research and Strategy invited residents of the Swan Valley to complete a Community Needs Survey and 74 per cent supported the development of retirement accommodation in the valley.
A total of 65 per cent said they wished to retire in the Swan Valley.
Mr Tucker had faith that the intent of the late John Kobelke’s report into the Swan Valley, combined with the clear need in the valley, would convince the Outer Metro Joint Development Panel to approve the development.
That hope was dealt a massive blow as council unanimously voted to endorse the officer’s recommendation that the Responsible Authority Report – the City’s report to JDAP – recommend refusal.
Mr Tucker alleges he was urged to develop aged care on the site by a number of senior City of Swan officials, names Echo News will not publish as we have been unable to establish the veracity of those claims.
One claim that is clear is that Swan Valley councillor Charlie Zannino, was a firm supporter as recently as 2016.
Echo News were provided with correspondence to Mr Tucker, signed by Mr Zannino, who stated that “I am of the opinion that it is the best site for such a development in the Swan Valley.”
Mr Zannino went on to list the advantages the site had over other locations in the Valley, also stating that aged care was well overdue in the Valley
“It is because of these reasons we dismissed the other sites you had suggested and asked that you consider the Dale Road sub-division for a suitable Retirement Village and Aged Care facilities.”
Cr Zannino said times had changed since 2016, with the level of opposition to the development having increased.
That level of opposition was on display on Wednesday night, as although the motion was passed unanimously, there was debate regarding one aspect.
On Tuesday, the City received a submission, provided to councillors on Wednesday, on the development from Lavan Legal, acting on behalf of adjoining landover Graeme Yukich, executive director of Oakover Estate.
In the submission, Lavan Legal general counsel partner Paul McQueen admitted he had not seen the full version of legal advice on the development and was relying only on the summary as contained in the Responsible Authority Report, but also contended the aged care development application proposed was in fact a hospital land use as defined by LPS17 which is a prohibited use in the Swan Valley Rural Zone.
Councillor Andrew Kiely attempted to have this clause inserted as a reason to refuse the application on the basis that Mr Yukich had a right to be heard at the JDAP meeting, scheduled for Friday.
On Wednesday, Echo News was interviewing Mr Tucker on the Yukich Drive side of his proposed development when Mr Yukich drove into the site.
He asked Mr Tucker how his aged care development was going, prompting a brusque response.
The scene quickly turned into an argument, with Mr Yukich telling Mr Tucker he would have supported the development if it was for accommodation.
A motel is an x use – not permitted – under LPS17, however a hotel development would be permissible under the scheme.
Mr Tucker told Echo News he had little hope JDAP would approve his development, and said he would likely not appeal at the State Administrative Tribunal.
“That’s another $120, $130,000 and we’re just exhausted,” he said,
“It’s been a nightmare from day one, and as for council, well they made the decision, they have to live with it.”