Araluen Estate gates to be unlocked

Araluen Estate gates to be unlocked

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Brian Betts, Barry Porter and Pam Edwards with other concerned residents. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

For more than a decade, Araluen Estate residents and the City of Armadale have been at odds over restricted access to ‘unsafe’ emergency evacuation routes in the Roleystone hills.

Residents of the popular golf estate have spent more than 10 years lobbying for the gates to Wymond Road and Armenti Road to remain open – two of just three access routes in and out of the estate – with officers stating that Wymond Road does not meet the necessary standards and poses a safety risk to road users.

The community has also pushed for the construction of a second permanent access route on the basis that, by today’s standards, the estate wouldn’t have received approval.

But it’s a $4 million project the city said it had not yet budgeted for.

The city has argued that Heritage Drive is more than capable of accommodating the traffic to and from the estate, with recent counts recording fewer than 1,300 vehicles daily – less than half its capacity.

It is understood that state government agencies have also deemed the arrangements appropriate for fire emergencies.

Last week, the city’s Corporate Services Committee met to consider the closure of the gates and review the 60 submissions received during its two-week public consultation period, two-thirds of which opposed the move on the grounds that it posed a significant risk to safety.

Following a lengthy and robust council debate, the committee recommended that the council close the gates to Wymond Road and Armenti Road, but leave them unlocked year-round, and authorise the installation of a $65,000 CCTV system to aid in enforcing penalties for unauthorised use.

The committee also suggested the council distribute information to all residents regarding what constitutes an emergency and the penalty for the illegal use of the routes.

While several councillors believed the resolution was a sufficient compromise, councillor Colin Campbell questioned the merit of the proposal and the validity of a gate that isn’t locked and called for the item to return to the committee for further consideration.

“I have to question the validity of a gate that isn’t locked,” he said.

“I can appreciate that sections of the road need to be improved, but that’s not something we’ve had an opportunity to interrogate.

“I also find it interesting that we’ve been advertising an arts gallery on this stretch of road as part of the Arts Trail and encouraging people to go there.

“Why would we do that if it’s so unsafe?

“If this is about risk management, upgrade the road.

“If it’s about protecting people, upgrade the road.

“There are people using the road now.

“The overwhelming feedback is that the community want the roads to remain open.

“I imagine I’m standing alone here, councillors, and I’m OK with that.

“I don’t think this recommendation will in any way remove the angst from within the community – if anything, it will ramp-up.”

But fellow councillors and the mayor said the city was running out of time to enforce and advertise the changes ahead of the bushfire season and argued that upgrades to the road could be discussed at a later date.

“It’s fine time we put this matter to sleep,” councillor Grant Nixon said.

“We’ve had many opportunities to discuss this matter and the experts insist that the road is unsafe. A physical barrier is a deterrent.”

The council approved a recommendation to close the gates to Wymond Road and Armenti Road, but leave them unlocked year-round, and authorise the installation of a $65,000 CCTV system to aid in enforcing penalties for unauthorised use.