A men’s support house on Nelson Street in Bedfordale has been given the go ahead by City of Armadale councillors at their meeting on Monday despite vocal opposition from some neighbours.
The original proposal by Christian not for profit Pindari ministries was to house six men who had experienced issues like drug addiction, homelessness and marriage breakdowns in a residential support program.
Following debate councillors dropped the maximum number of men to four.
Since the proposal was made public earlier this year it had drawn safety concerns from residents about the men being admitted to the house, two petitions against it and 29 objections to it during public advertising.
Councillors Mark Geary and Donna Shaw initially moved to reject the proposal saying it did not fit with the rural character of the area.
The motion was lost five votes to eight and instead an amended recommendation was adopted which dropped the allowable number of men to four and required Pindari to submit a management plan and compliance report on the management report biannually.
Owner of the neighbouring property Trefor Kingdon was disappointed by the council’s decision and said residents had been provided with very little information from Pindari addressing their concerns.
“Nobody knows what the criteria for the screening of them are,” he said.
“Who is going to do the screening? It could be some well meaning good samaritans in the Pindari group but what sort of assurance is there that they won’t put the wrong person in there that might have a psychotic episode?
Southern Hills Christian college principal Gavin Nancarrow said he was not consulted at all until he found out about the proposal from a parent.
He said with the school only 800 metres away it would have been nice to be consulted.
“I don’t know enough about it to actually judge the actual impact about the school and I think that’s the disappointing part,” he said.
“There’s a possible risk to the safety of our students, which I don’t have any evidence for but I don’t have any evidence against.”
Pindari ministries committee member Tim de Vos, who was also the Kelmscott John Calvin school principal, would live at the property as ‘head of house’ and said he appreciated the concerns and the committee would consider them.
He said the committee would work to improve communication with residents and fears over safety were unfounded.
“There is certain assumptions about the kind of men that are going to come in, these are not people who have been sent by parole board,” he said.
“Our screening process, we are going to be doing that in consultation with health professionals and we want to make sure of the people we get in.
“The people that we’re going to get in we can be very selective and we will be and one of the reasons is I’m going to be living in the front house with my family.”
Armadale mayor Henry Zelones said the management plan would be required prior to occupancy being permitted and they would need to comply with the development approval conditions and obtain a building permit.