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EPRA actions give council cause for concern

PERTH City Council is getting very cold feet about its association with the East Perth Redevelopment Authority.

The EPRA has ridden roughshod over the PCC’s wishes and resumed the last parcel of land left on Arden Street in East Perth.

The PCC has owned the 1.17 hectare urban-zoned site since the 1950s.

The Arden Street land is estimated to be worth up to $8 million.

Council had told the EPRA on at least three separate occasions that the site was earmarked for public open space.

Acting EPRA CEO Tony Morgan said eighteen new homes would be built on the site.

“This finishes eight years of work by the EPRA,” Mr Morgan said.

He said the EPRA had initially been set up to redevelop 144 hectares of disused industrial land.

Mr Morgan said the EPRA would only develop 41 per cent of the land after reaching a compromise with residents’ desires for at least some public open space.

“The new plans will result in a green belt along the riverfront,” he said.

Mr Morgan said there had been 21.5 hectares set aside for public space in the entire East Perth redevelopment.

At the PCC’s 22 February meeting Councillor Bert Tudori tried to move, as a matter of urgent business, that council tell the EPRA it resented its action, called on Planning Minister Graham Kierath to rescind the land resumption and investigated the legal avenues the council could pursue in relation to the matter.

However, Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass, also one of the PCC’s two representatives on the EPRA’s board, said he thought it was highly inappropriate for council to make comments on the EPRA’s actions.

Dr Nattrass said, because it took six months to resume land, the matter was not urgent.

This was a seemingly major backflip given council’s ardour to protect the final Arden Street enclave.

Dr Nattrass was, however, bound by confidentiality provisions covering meetings of the EPRA.

Both he and fellow council representative Judy McEvoy were left in the position where they could not even publicly talk to fellow councillors about the authority’s plans.

East Perth resident Chris Brockwell said the resumption seemed to have been sparked by the PCC announcing a public consultation process on options for the proposed park.

“It is the only undeveloped elevated inner city vista of the Swan River left in East Perth,” Mr Brockwell said.

“The EPRA has built a wall of housing around it.

“Now the only people who will have a view of the river will be those living there.”

The Arden Street land lies between the last piece of developed land on Arden Street and Gloucester Park.

East Perth resident Lisa Scaffidi said mooted plans to redevelop Gloucester Park created a major density issue.

“If Gloucester Park is redeveloped, we’re going to need all the public open space we can get,” Mrs Scaffidi said.

The PCC is also concerned because the EPRA has control of the development of the eastern gateway to the CBD.

Currently, the council does not know what the EPRA is proposing for the gateway.

Council wants it turned into a highrise development with plenty of ground level public open space.

“I believe that site must have open space if it is to act as a gateway,” Dr Nattrass said.

However, Councillor David-son said EPRA’s actions with Arden Street proved all bets were off.

There is a definite concern that council wishes will be ignored.

Councillor Laurance Good-man said it was the veil of secrecy over the EPRA’s actions that most concerned him.

“It has huge powers that override the council and the public,” Mr Goodman said.

“The EPRA probably needed those powers to pull the whole project together but it has done its job now.”

Mr Goodman said he had to question whether there was any point to being on council.

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