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Councillors to tackle Premier

PERTH City Councillors – all nine of them – are taking their fight over Arden Street to Premier Richard Court.

Councillors are fuming over the East Perth Redevelopment Authority’s resumption of the land which council has owned since the 1950s.

Planning Minister Graham Kierath has reportedly backed the EPRA move.

For the past two years council has told its ratepayers the land would be set aside for public open space, even though it is zoned for urban use.

Residents in the EPRA area are keen to keep the land for open space because of the surrounding density of new development.

With the mooted redevelopment of Gloucester Park, residents feel the situation can only get worse.

Council CEO Garry Hunt told council that legal avenues to block the resumption were few and far between.

Mr Hunt said there was also no legal requirement for Minister for Lands Doug Shave or Mr Kierath to influence the matter.

“I stress legal requirements – not political,” he said.

Advice Mr Hunt received said the signs council erected on the Arden Street land calling for public comment on proposed uses for the site are acceptable for the moment.

However, they will need to be removed if it is decided all avenues to block the resumption have failed.

Council is continuing with its public consultation process and has appointed a consultant to handle the matter.

EPRA has erected signs next to council’s signs indicating what it plans to do with the land.

Councillor Bert Tudori said it was time council let the government know how it felt about Arden Street.

“Apparently, the Premier was the one who stopped the Leighton Beach development,” Mr Tudori said.

“This is an election year. There is no point in going to (Graham) Kierath because he can’t back down now.

“We have to show the government we have a will to fight. Let’s give the ratepayers what they elected us for.”

Councillor Noel Semmens called on councillors to go to the mattresses over the Arden Street situation.

“I’ve had a gutful of this sort of treatment,” Mr Semmens said.

“It’s about time we stood up for ourselves. We’ve been silent for too long.”

Council is also asking for the majority of the land in the EPRA area to be handed back to council.

Councillor Laurance Good-man said EPRA had already outlived its sunset clause.

Most councillors are also concerned that land over the Graham Farmer Freeway is being handed to the EPRA for redevelopment.

EPRA used a ‘contiguous land’ clause in the Act used to set up the authority to claim the eastern gateway of the CBD and the Northbridge Urban Renewal Area.

Councillor Judy McEvoy and Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass tried to assure councillors that EPRA’s motives were pure.

“I would bet my life on EPRA not encroaching into North-bridge proper,” Dr Nattrass said.

He admitted, however, that EPRA could extend its reign if it wanted.

Mrs McEvoy said she thought her colleagues were being a little paranoid.

“EPRA has no intention of moving into Northbridge,” she said.

Mrs McEvoy said EPRA had achieved more in nine weeks towards the redevelopment of the land over the Northbridge Tunnel than the WA Planning Commission had achieved in the four and a half years it had controlled the area.

Mr Goodman said he accepted Mrs McEvoy’s confidence.

“I was equally confident when I heard that EPRA had sunset clauses,” he said.

“I’ve seen EPRA change plans hundreds of times when they’ve found ways to do things better.

“Yet, suddenly, the plans (for Arden Street) can’t be changed.

“Everybody’s judged on their performance. Current performance says don’t trust EPRA,” he said.

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