A storm is brewing over road plan

A storm is brewing over road plan

A storm is brewing
Jemima and Andrew Bekker live in a house their family has owned for generations, and are totally opposed to the City of Canning’s attempt to change this section of Sevenoaks Street to a dual lane road. Photograph - Aaron Van Rongen

A storm is brewing over a sleepy, leafy suburban street in Beckenham that the City of Canning wants to expand to two lanes, despite the street not being within their local government area.

What’s more, the City of Gosnells is refusing to budge on the issue, moving to change the classification of the road to prevent Canning’s proposed changes.

The stretch of Sevenoaks Street from William Street to Albany Highway, just past Beckenham train station, is a single-lane stretch of road, about 950 metres long, has been classified as an Other Regional Roads reservation on the MRS for over 50 years.

The City of Canning has been expanding their section of Sevenoaks – from Welshpool Road to William Street – to a four-lane divided road since the 19802.

However the Beckenham section of the road is markedly different.

There is no through access to the road, with an island in the middle of William Street, and unlike the rest of Sevenoaks Street, it is located within the City of Gosnells and has significant tree canopy.

There is no right turn from Albany Highway onto the street, with resident Jemima Bekker describing it as busy on one side and almost completely clear on the other.

While only a resident since 2021, the house she moved into has been in her family for generations, built by her grandparents, who sold to their children, who subsequently sold to Ms Bekker’s young family.

Canning Mayor Patrick Hall contends that small suburban road must be expanded.

“Sevenoaks Street is required to ensure that when fully developed, the Canning City Centre can operate satisfactorily from a transport perspective,” he said.

“As part of the Canning City Centre Activity Centre Plan (approved by the Western Australian Planning Commission in 2017) the ‘Movement, Access and Parking Strategy’ was prepared on the basis that the Sevenoaks Street ‘Other Regional Roads’ reservation would be constructed in the future.”

The City of Gosnells believes the expansion is not required, and to that end they commissioned SMEC to conduct a traffic modelling study, with Canning and Gosnells splitting the $28,609 cost.

The modelling identified that the duplication of Sevenoaks Street to the south of William Street does not offer additional levels of performance as there is insufficient traffic on Sevenoaks Street between Albany Highway and William Street to benefit from the upgrade.

Despite the study producing a definitive finding, the City of Canning is not totally accepting the results.

“The SMEC study generally looks at the operation of William Street between Sevenoaks Street and Albany Highway under various scenarios for 2026 and 2041 traffic volumes,” he said.

“In order to consider the ultimate future of the Sevenoaks Street ‘Other Regional Roads’ reservation between William Street and Albany Highway (within the City of Gosnells) a much larger traffic modelling exercise is required.

“This study would usually be undertaken in conjunction with Main Roads WA and Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage.”

Now Gosnells have attempted to protect the street, voting unanimously at a council meeting on February 28 to endorse a position statement that would remove the ‘Other Regional Roads’ designation from that stretch of Sevenoaks.

Ms Bekker said she fully supported the City of Gosnell’s decision, saying that if Canning got their way, the amenity of the street would be ruined.

“We don’t want this, we’ve got young kids, cats, dogs and we don’t need this extra traffic,” she said.

“It’s a residential area, and if it was expanded we’d lose our peace of mind, the feel of the street and I think we’d lose the ability to walk our kids to school.

“You can’t get through to the Canning city centre anyway, there’s no direct access through to Carousel, it just doesn’t make sense because you can’t get across William Street.”

Gosnells Mayor Terresa Lynes said

“we don’t see the cost to build it as having a great benefit for our residents,” she said.

“There will be quite a few trees you would need to remove, they’re well-established trees and we’re trying to retain the trees we have, and it’s a nice, quiet residential road.”

“We’re definitely opposed to this, and that’s why we intend to change the classification of the road”

In the end, Ms Bekker perhaps sums up the situation more succinctly.

“It belongs to the people of the City of Gosnells, not Canning, and if they want better access to their city centre they can improve their own roads.”