Park development proposal divides council, residents

Park development proposal divides council, residents

The City of Canning council has been advised to not proceed with a proposed residential development of a Willetton park. Photograph - Toby Hussey.

The City of Canning council has been advised to at least temporarily reject a proposal to redevelop a Willetton park and use the land to develop houses.

At the city’s April 18, 2017 meeting the council agreed to seek community input regarding a proposal to redevelop Willetton’s Hilltop Park on Hilltop Rise.

If supported the development could see the back third of the lot redeveloped into three houses with a shared driveway.

An independent surveyor report estimated the city could make about $1.2 million through the sale of the land.

At the April meeting the vote was split 5-5 with mayor Paul Ng breaking the deadlock to vote in favour of the proposal and to seek public opinion.

The city contacted landowners sharing a boundary with the undeveloped portion of the lot, sent 137 letters to residents within 150 metres of the area and public notices in a local paper, libraries and administration building.

More than 40 responses were received.

Included in the replies was one supporter who said they would have liked money raised to go toward upgrading other parks in the city, as well as two who supported the change and expressed interest in purchasing the proposed lots.

Residents who opposed the proposal cited the loss of open bushland, the effect it could have on native animals and plants, concerns construction work would mean children could not use the park and danger to children because of increased traffic.

At next week’s meeting the council will discuss the report and the city’s chief executive has recommended they leave the lot undeveloped for now.

The recommendation suggested the city prepare a draft Land Utilisation Strategy to identify and assist the council in determining the future of all its landholdings including open spaces.

The city’s chief executive Arthur Kyron said he recommended the proposal not be taken any further because of public opposition.

“Due to objections raised and a lack of clear strategy around land utilisation within the Willetton suburb, it is recommended that council resolves not to proceed with any further public consultation or works,” he said.

Councillor David Brown opposed the original motion in April because he said he did not support developing public open spaces unless there was a need to use a specific piece of land.

In May Mr Brown attended a meeting with residents to hear their thoughts on the matter and said he expected Mr Kyron would recommend against development.

“I’m not particularly surprised because in my opinion the community is dead against it,” he said.

Mr Brown did not reveal how he was planning to vote at next week’s council meeting.