Club under threat

Club under threat

Urban planner director and Maddington White City soccer president Petar Mrdja is not happy with the city's structure plan. Photograph — Richard Polden.

After 20 years of rich history and a soccer team that is having an excellent season, the Serbian Community Centre could literally be split in two by a new road development.

The structure plan, which was endorsed by the City of Gosnells at the last council meeting last month, is now being referred to the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) for final approval.

Serbian club member and urban planner director Petar Mrdja said the club can make a submission to the WAPC for the plan to be rejected or approved but with an alternative road layout, which does not impact the club.

“We are reasonable and do not want to stop the structure plan from proceeding, however what we want is for our concerns and history to be considered,” he said.

“To assist with this outcome we have already engaged a traffic engineer to provide some alternative options for roads to be constructed around our club and not through our club.”

If the structure plan is approved and the road reserve is enforced over the club this would mean the soccer team would no longer exist.

“We would have no sporting grounds for the many events the club holds in this area, things like children’s carnivals, weddings and hosting the Serbian-Australian Soccer tournament,” he said.

During the last council meeting, Peter Abetz put forward an amendment to recommend to the WA Planning Commission that the Serbian club property be zoned as “club premises” in the structure plan and realign the proposed road network.

“Given that soccer is a vital part of the life of the club, there is no way they would ever want to have a road between their building and the soccer ground,” he said.

Mr Abetz further added that the current councillors and administration have no intention to compulsorily acquire the land.

“The fact is that eventually if the lack of this road being constructed becomes a real problem for other landowners, the city could move to compulsorily acquire it, which would be devastating for the club,” he said.

Mr Abetz’s amendment didn’t pass.

In the end, four councillors had to declare a conflict of interest for various reasons.

Therefore only seven councillors voted on the plan and it lost four votes to three.

The City of Gosnells mayor Glenn Dewhurst said the provision of the new road would effectively divide the site.

“However that would not occur until and unless the owner wanted to voluntarily proceed with some form of industrial subdivision and/or development,” he said.

“Whilst the city could request the Minister for Lands to acquire the road land, the city has historically been very cautious with those powers and has only used them on a minimal number of occasions when it has been considered essential.”

Mr Dewhurst said the city considered a range of designs but the plan presented to the council represented the best planning outcome, providing an appropriate road connection to Victoria Road as well as facilitating composite development fronting Bickley Road.

“This design also allows for the Serbian club to consider future industrial development potential, whilst maintaining their existing club building,” he said.

“It will provide an important employment hub for local residents and businesses and offer genuine economic development benefits.”

The city has spent approximately $310,000 on planning for the Maddington Kenwick Strategic Employment Area – Precinct 1.