Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - OPINION -

AS the dust set­tles on the rub­ble of the State Lib­eral party, it is worth con­sid­er­ing what John McGrath said at a re­cent com­mu­nity fo­rum in South Perth. John was lucky enough to re­tain his seat, though his mar­gin was sub­stan­tially re­duced from 71.1 per cent to about 57.5 per cent.

John’s an­swers were de­liv­ered with enough spin to make Shane Warne proud.

John’s ex­pla­na­tion of the Plan­ning Min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion to ig­nore the com­mu­nity view and coun­cil’s unan­i­mous desire to place a fi­nite limit on the height of build­ings in South Perth was disin­gen­u­ous. He also claimed that his lob­by­ing of the Plan­ning Min­is­ter to re­move the 50 per cent com­mer­cial re­quire­ment was a good thing for res­i­dents.

The only thing pre­vent­ing 70storey build­ings in the South Perth Sta­tion Precinct was a Supreme Court de­ci­sion which con­firmed that the DAP had acted il­le­gally in award­ing height bonuses to de­vel­op­ments that were not pre­dom­i­nantly com­mer­cial.

This de­ci­sion was act­ing as a stop-gap un­til the Plan­ning Min­is­ter ap­proved height lim­its that the City of South Perth and the res­i­dents had re­quested in Amend­ment 46.

But in­stead of do­ing what the res­i­dents and coun­cil had unan­i­mously en­dorsed, the Plan­ning Min­is­ter re­fused to re-in­state height re­stric­tions and re­moved the 50 per cent com­mer­cial re­quire­ment.

John claimed credit for this at the com­mu­nity fo­rum whilst try­ing to spin it as a pos­i­tive.

The rea­son given by the Min­is­ter for not re-in­stat­ing height lim­its was that it would re­sult in build­ings that are all the same size. What a load of rub­bish.

There’s an easy so­lu­tion to that prob­lem which ex­ists in many other places around the world. It’s called “trans­fer­able air rights”. A cap is placed on height and if the de­vel­oper wants to build higher, they can pur­chase their ad­ja­cent neigh­bour’s un­used air-rights.

The truth is the de­vel­op­ers just want to build as high as they can and not have to pay the neigh­bours for the amenity they are steal­ing.

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment and John McGrath have aided and abet­ted the de­vel­op­ers’ cause, which shouldn’t come as a sur­prise con­sid­er­ing Colin Bar­nett said in his con­ces­sion speech that he wanted to be re­mem­bered for lead­ing a “prode­vel­op­ment gov­ern­ment”.

Don’t worry, Colin. We’ll re­mem­ber you when we look at the sky­scrapers next door. And we’ll re­mem­ber the rea­son we got rid of you so em­phat­i­cally. PAUL RUTHVEN, South Perth.

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