19/10/2004 - 22:00

Special Report - Arguing the issues

19/10/2004 - 22:00

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Differences of opinion between local and State governments regarding development in Perth often mirror those found in the broader community, according to the two representatives of local government at the roundtable.

Special Report - Arguing the issues

Differences of opinion between local and State governments regarding development in Perth often mirror those found in the broader community, according to the two representatives of local government at the roundtable.

And the two mayors who attended the coastal development forum typify the difference in local government concerns – Tony Vallenlonga is from the City of Stirling, which has 180,000 residents, and Rob Rowell represents the Town of Cottesloe, with about 10,000 residents.

Mr Rowell said that smaller councils needed more help from State Planning authorities.

“I believe that State Planning should take a role to help local government,” he said.

“Cottesloe is one of those small suburbs that has a lot of active locals, and to a certain extent those locals believe it is their suburb and don’t realise their role in the total metropolitan scenario.

“We feel that in those cases Town Planning should sit with local government and help them develop a scheme that is appropriate for the metropolitan area.

“Resources for every local government are very different, and smaller local governments are in danger of losing authority in planning.

“It is difficult. While the councils at Stirling, Wanneroo, Kelmscott, and Bayswater have enough resources, smaller areas do need help and this is where I think State Planning has an obligation and a role to get involved more, or to have people within State Planning who come out and help.

“When a local government wants to amend its town planning scheme, State Planning should have a group in there that would come out and see you, sit down, go through the processes and give you guidelines, work through it.

“It wouldn’t be difficult; it just means a change in the way of thinking.”

LandCorp CEO Ross Holt agreed that smaller councils often needed more support.

“It is not really fair on individual small councils and councillors representing narrow wards to have to make decisions affecting the whole community,” Mr Holt said.

“There is a role in the planning process to address metro region-wide issues and support local planning authorities, but not to take their power away.”

Mayor of Stirling Tony Vallelonga said it was not in the best interests of the community for State Planning to overrule local government decisions .

“Why have local governments when every time you try to do something in the best interests of the community you have ministers jumping on your back and saying no,” he said.

“We are there to make decisions, and we are elected to do that.

“The minister [Alannah MacTiernan] says she wants transit-oriented housing, and we are the closest, largest local government to the city with Glendalough and Stirling train stations nearby, and a bus feeder service from Scarborough.

“The whole area can go to the city without any trouble and we need to encourage this area for development, but the minister says no to greater density.

“The minister makes the decision about what local government needs for their own areas, which is ridiculous; it is out of kilter completely.”

Cape Bouvard Investments commercial director Lee Pinkerton said the situation in Scarborough was unusual because the local government was driving development.

“In a lot of instances you are not only fighting the locals, but an action group and also the local council,” he said.

“We are in quite a unique situation in that the council has taken the initiative and gone out and said that this is the way forward.”

Roberts Day managing director Erwin Roberts agreed that local governments also varied greatly in their approaches to development.

“Whereas someone like Tony [Vallelonga] is an excellent example of a pro-development approach, there are also others who are not,” Mr Roberts told the forum.

“There is a local authority in the South West that has effectively put the shutters up and said that they have what they want, and that they do not want more development. People are going to the area wanting to bring capital in, and they can’t, and the ratepayers are suffering as a consequence.

“In two of the last three years there have been significant rate increases purely because there is not enough development coming in to the place.”

Mr Roberts added that, when dealing with development, whether in the metro area or not, sometimes developers were at the mercy of a local authority that may not share the view that development was necessarily a good thing.

“There was some leadership taken by State government agencies through the 1990s where they actually nominated areas like Fremantle, Cottesloe and Scarborough as nodes for coastal development,” Mr Roberts said.

“This is how it should happen  at State level, nodes should be identified and then responsibility handed over to local government to put that into effect.

“Somewhere along the line the message has been lost and now we have a position where local authorities have moved forward with development options, and you now have, in my opinion, the State coming in and saying ‘no’.”

Australand State manager land, David Rowe, said a range of other State legislation also came into play.

“The system has been complicated because of all the other issues that arise, whether they be heritage, Bush Forever, wetlands, environmental, you name it, all those things come in to play as well, and the town planning schemes have remained as they are,” he said.

“I don’t think we have made the most of the opportunities of coastal nodes.

“We have a great long coast and you’ve got to make the opportunities where there is private ownership and take advantage of it.

“In the future it will be great to have a series of focal points along the coast.”

 

SNAPSHOT

 

  • LandCorp chief executive officer Ross Holt: “It is not fair on individual small councils and councillors ... to have to make decisions affecting the whole community.”
  • City of Stirling Mayor Tony Vallelonga: “We are there to make decisions, and we are elected to do that.”
  • Cape Bouvard Investments commercial director Lee Pinkerton: “In a lot of instances you are not only fighting the locals, but an action group and also the local council.”
  • Cedar Woods Properties Ltd managing director Paul Sadleir: “We have to get the balance right between what the existing community is used to, and introducing change.”
  • Multiplex development manager Charlie Robertson (crouching): “We are starting with a blank piece of paper.”
  • Town of Cottesloe Mayor Rob Rowell: “I believe that State Planning should take a role to help local government.”
  • Roberts Day managing director Erwin Roberts: “Nodes should be identified and then  responsibility handed over to local government.”
  • Australand State manager, land David Rowe: “The system has been complicated because of all the other issues that arise.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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