‘NO’ VOTE FOR SAYER ST CLOSURE
DEFENCE Housing Australia (DHA) managing director Peter Howman says SAS soldiers and their families are at risk if Nedlands Council ignores WA’s bushfire guidelines and cuts off the west end of Sayer Street.
Last Tuesday, Nedlands councillors angered by DHA avoiding their planning processes decided to investigate closing the west end of Sayer Street to a proposed DHA development of the SAS’s Seaward Village.
Swanbourne residents opposed to the redevelopment claim part of the street was ungazetted 90 years ago when it was included in the A-Class Reserve Allen Park.
Mr Howman said any closure of Sayer Street without first opening a secondary access road to the village would not be in accordance with bushfire fighting and control guidelines.
“The closure would be detrimental to the safety and security of existing Seaward Village residents,” he said. The WA Planning Commission’s (WAPC) Bush Fire Management Guidelines 2014 required any new community to have two access routes, he said.
Mr Howman said “significant” DHA work had determined Sayer Street was the best road for the development, roads through A-Class reserves including Kings and John Forrest National parks were “not uncommon” in WA and DHA would continue with a WAPC development application.
Alternatives for the DHA to Sayer Street are a route through the SAS’s Campbell Barracks that is not supported by the Department of Defence, and a new road through Allen Park from Odern Crescent, which the council has said it would not support.
Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins said A-Class routes through other parks were used by the public to get to attractions, not private housing, and councils and the State Government would not allow other private developers to use A-Class reserves as access routes to building sites.
“DHA have got it wrong, as we are not closing a road, we are investigating closing a reserve, and we could go in there tomorrow with a ripper and rip it up,” Cr Bill Hassell said.
The Federal Government may try to resume the claimed A-Class section of the street but it needs to show the route was needed for a Commonwealth public purpose, and get both Houses of State Parliament to support converting the street section in the reserve to a gazetted street.
“And I’d be surprised if Premier Colin Barnett wants that fight in his back yard,” Cr Hassell said.
SWANBOURNE residents seem to have some of the dogged determination of their SAS Regiment neighbours. Quietly, without fuss, with dedication and damage exceeding their numbers, a small band of residents have dug into the history files and uncovered the illegal status of the west end of Sayer Street leading to the village Defence Housing Australia wants flattened. The residents have put Nedlands council back into the planning fight over Seaward Village and its neighbouring Allen Park. Whether their efforts stop or hinder DHA’s plans may depend on WA rules about emergency fire access or State Government support for Canberra if it wants to resume Sayer Street. However, the residents’ effort is a morale boost for any fight involving individuals and communities tackling bureaucracy. Moreover, that Defence Housing Australia should propose demolishing a soldiers’ haven next to a park created by a Gallipoli veteran, John Allen, in the centenary year of that conflict, is a heavy irony not lost on most.