11/06/2008 - 22:00

Highway gets councils in a lather

11/06/2008 - 22:00

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A political hot potato for the past decade, the proposed Stephenson Highway is back on the agenda with a coalition of western suburbs councils drafting a plan to oppose any future development.

Highway gets councils in a lather
CONTROVERSY: The proposed Stephenson Highway, which would run from Osborne Park to Fremantle, has attracted some revived criticism from a number of western suburbs councils. Photo: Grant Currall

A political hot potato for the past decade, the proposed Stephenson Highway is back on the agenda with a coalition of western suburbs councils drafting a plan to oppose any future development.

Talk of the proposed road, which would run from Osborne Park to Fremantle, has been revived thanks to a move by the City of Stirling to develop part of the highway within its jurisdiction - a link between the Mitchell Freeway and Stephenson Avenue.

While there's no plan to develop the highway's southern section, from Churchlands to Fremantle, as yet - and no certainty around whether Stirling's plans will be realised either - the issue has mobilised a number of councils to articulate their opposition to any extension.

To date, Claremont and Cambridge councils, along with the City of Nedlands, have held talks on the issue, with the latter hoping to put $15,000 towards a group opposition plan.

Several councils are also hoping to table the plan at the next meeting of the Western Suburbs Regional Organisation of Councils (WESROC).

Among them is the Town of Claremont, which says the City of Stirling's plans have set the ball in motion on the issue.

"What happens is that link opens up the question of what is going to happen down our end. We don't know what is going on at a planning level behind the scenes," Claremont Mayor Peter Olson said.

One element of the Stephenson plan that causes particular concern is a four-lane expansion of Claremont Crescent, next to Scotch College, which would direct traffic onto Curtin Avenue and the Eric Street intersection.

"We're saying we don't need any more traffic through the town, as we've already got [Stirling] highway, the railway and Claremont Crescent," Mr Olson said.

For the Town of Cambridge, the main issue is claiming back the road reserves originally allocated for the highway and currently held by Main Roads.

These include parts of Bold Park and the Wembley Golf Course.

Mayor Simon Withers said that while there was no indication the state government was moving to build the highway, the fact that the reserves had not been given back created some uncertainty.

"The problem we have is Stephenson Highway was designed a very long time ago, and Main Roads has kept the road reserves, which run through some of our major green areas," Mr Withers said.

"We don't have a problem with the [City of Stirling's] link - it will redevelop dead space and regenerate the area. We're saying 'please consider taking away the road reserves'."

Mr Withers said he hoped to bring in consultants to look at traffic movement through the town, in order to put forward a case for the transfer of the land.

City of Nedlands chief executive officer Graham Foster said the main issue for the city was increased traffic congestion.

The Town of Mosman Park is also believed to be supportive of the coalition plan, although the City of Fremantle has not committed to a position.

The Stephenson Highway plan was originally drafted in the 1950s as part of a broader road network plan for Perth.

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