Top East Perth address gets the green light

THE battle to have Perth City Council-owned Arden Street land turned into a park is over, with Lands Minister Doug Shave signing the resumption order giving the East Perth Redevelopment Authority control of most of it.

Council had promised EPRA area residents it would turn its 13,000 square metre Arden Street site into a park.

The EPRA stuck to its position that the land, adjacent to Gloucester Park, was zoned for urban uses – not parkland – and that it had always planned to build houses on it.

It proposed building 18 houses on the site but has now opted to build 23.

EPRA CEO Tony Morgan said that because authority had only resumed 7,000 square metres of the site, substantial public open space would be created, expanding the greenbelt through the redevelopment area to Gloucester Park and increasing access to the Swan River.

“It is anticipated Arden Street will be one of the most sought after developments in East Perth,” Mr Morgan said.

The land offers sweeping views of the Swan River and the Burswood Resort Casino and has become popular with local tour operators.

Some estimates put block prices at between $450,000 and $500,000.

But the land will need major rehabilitation works to make it fit for use because it was once used as a rubbish dump and its severe slope means retaining works will be needed.

Mr Morgan would only say the project would be “commercially viable”.

He said 15 per cent of the EPRA area had been given to public open space. Most residential subdivisions only allow 10 per cent.

There are 2,500 residents in the wealthy enclave and many feel more parkland is needed because their houses do not have front or back yards.

There are also more children in the area than expected. The area was targeted at “empty-nesters” but has proved popular with many young families.

Residents argue the parks in the area are over used now, without a full residential population and the hotel planned for Claisebrook Cove being operational.

They also fear Gloucester Park will soon be offered for redevelopment.

EPRA area resident and Perth City Councillor Laurance Goodman said there was not enough infrastructure in the area.

“There is not enough parking. On New Year’s Eve we couldn’t even get out of our own homes with our own cars because of all the people that came to Gloucester Park and parked in the streets.

“The EPRA has undersupplied a lot of things and now they want to cram more people in.

“I’ve never heard of a Government authority that thinks so little of what the community and council wants.

“This place could become a slum of the future.”

Mr Morgan said extra parking would be provided on Nile Street for visitors to the area.

Mr Goodman said council should be allowed to progress its plan to turn the land into a park because if it was proved wrong, the land could be easily developed.

“If the EPRA is wrong, they’ve stuffed the place,” he said.

Mr Goodman believes council will get less than $2 million in compensation for the resumed land.

“The whole redevelopment there may bring in revenues of about $8 million. But there are huge costs associated with developing it,” he said.

“There are a few blocks on Arden Street that are on the market for $250,000 and they’re not moving.”

Labor candidate for Perth John Hyde said Labor had promised to keep the remainder of Arden Street as parkland if it was elected.

“We asked the Government not to make a decision on Arden Street until after the election,” Mr Hyde said.

“The Government’s term ended on December 9 so they are in caretaker mode yet they made the decision anyway.”

A statement from Mr Shave’s office said: “Lands Minister Doug Shave was obliged, when requested by the EPRA, to process taking of Arden Street land, to sign a formal order to complete the action”.

Mr Hyde said he understood the EPRA could start selling off the remaining Arden Street land immediately.

Perth Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass said he was disappointed with the decision to cede the Arden Street land to the EPRA.

He and Councillor Judy McEvoy represent council on the EPRA board.

“If I’d had my way we would have had a park there. I’ve always felt Arden Street was one of the great views of Perth,” Dr Nattrass said.

He blames a lack of resident involvement for council’s loss of control of the land.

“I predicted an uprising of East Perth residents against the redevelopment plan but it never eventuated to the level I would have expected,” Dr Nattrass said.

“Council can’t do it on its own. We need the support of the residents.

“Besides, what the EPRA is putting there is better than what was proposed.”

EPRA area resident Jan Watt said the resumption of the land would turn many lifelong Liberal voters in the area to Labor supporters.

“The only hope we’ve got left is Labor’s promise to keep the land as parkland,” Mrs Watt said.

“It goes against my grain because I’ve been a life-time Liberal voter but I’ll be voting Labor.

“When we bought our land in East Perth, the site was marked as council-owned land and were told they wouldn’t redevelop it.

“It seems amazing to me that a body such as the EPRA can override an elected body and the residents in its area.”

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