Wanneroo faces land-use showdown

THE Western Australian Planning Commission is seeking public com-ment on the draft East Wanneroo Land Use and Water Management Strategy. The draft strategy examines the issues and proposes solutions to the competing demands for groundwater, future land use and development, and environmental protection, and is the source of much debate and discussion in the area. The strategy will have a major impact on the future direction of the horticultural industry in Wanneroo, and its importance was evidenced by a recent City of Wanneroo public meeting attended by more than 400 people. The draft strategy is the result of a consultation process that has included community input, prior to the WAPC formally considering the proposals. A preliminary discussion paper was released by the com-munity consultative committee in May 2004, which presented three draft land-use scenarios designed to form the basis of community discussion, none of which has been strongly supported. The draft strategy proposes major land use changes in the south-east of Wanneroo from rural to urban and the establishment of a new agricultural and horticultural area to the north-east to replace those areas lost to future urban development. The issue of future land use in the area has been going on for some time and may result in the eventual loss of one of the state’s traditional horticulture precincts. According to Nick Trandos, whose family is well known in Wanneroo farm circles, agricultural activities in the area are on the decline.“Long-standing land owners are looking to retire, and because of the uncertainty over land use in the area, buyers are not likely to buy property in the area for agriculture purposes,” Mr Trandos said. From a financial point of view, land owners may be in position to benefit greatly in selling their rural lots to developers. Developers are looking for land with closer proximity to the metro-politan area, which in turn will force horticulture to re-locate to the north and east. The problem with this, according to Mr Trandos, is that not all this land is suitable for farming. “Only a small part of the area is really suited to agriculture because of the ground water available, so it doesn’t make sense to build suburbs over the top of this land and move farming elsewhere,” he said. Mr Trandos suggests the issue could have been dealt with some time ago if the land best suited for horticulture was made off limits to development. The best farming land would continue to be used for this purpose, giving certainty to current and future land owners, and urban develop-ment could go ahead in other areas. Another issue to consider is the environmental impact. With development moving both north and east, native bush land may come under threat, upsetting the bio-diversity of the local ecosystem. This is likely to be an issue irrespective of whether the land in question is zoned for horticultural purposes or urban development. The land use and water management strategy in the area essentially comes down to supply and demand considerations for land. The City of Wanneroo and north-west metropolitan corridor continues to enjoy large population growth and having a large number of rural zone lots so close to Perth is seen by some as an inefficient use of land. In addition, the high cost of providing social services and amenities in the area is borne by the wider community. The other side of the argument is that Perth is fortunate to have a rural zoned area so close to the city and the coast, and the traditional rural use of the land should be encouraged, or if not horticulture itself then at least small rural-lot lifestyle. The closing date for submissions is Friday January 27 2006.

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