Fight on for rehab
THE founder of a men’s drug rehabilitation centre says he will fight a decision by City of Swan councillors to refuse changing the centre’s zoning to comply with planning laws.
Shalom House founder Peter Lyndon-James said he was disappointed with the decision to reject his applications to rezone two properties in Henley Brook as community purpose because it was inconsistent with local planning objectives (Swan Valley Planning Act 1995).
“This means we must return to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) to make the decision, a place we have been to multiple times,” he said.
“While this is a setback, we maintain our strength of conviction to get this approved and to work within the regulatory framework.
“We will continue to do what we do, for as long as SAT agrees we’re within our rights, the Supreme Court agrees we’re within our rights, and the City’s planners agree we’re within our rights.
“We continue to be frustrated by the lack of support and proactive assistance from local and State government to assist us in this important work to rehabilitate those in our community with addictions, especially given the epidemic we face with methamphetamines, alcohol and other substance abuse.”
Mr Lyndon-James said the City had spent $201,105 on the court case.
“Some of the councillors are going out of their way to make this as difficult as they possibly can,” he said.
Councillors acknowledged Shalom House was a community purpose use as determined earlier by SAT.
SHALOM House again lost its battle to keep its doors open in the Swan Valley.
City of Swan councillors voted 8-5 last week to refuse changing the rehabilitation centre’s zoning to comply with planning laws.
City officers recommended the council approve Shalom’s request for change of use from residential to community at its Henley Brook properties despite being inconsistent with local planning objectives, including the Swan Valley Planning Act 1995.
The program run by former drug addict and councillor Peter Lyndon-James claims to be the strictest rehab centre in Australia and has been locked in a three-year battle with the City over zoning rules.
Cr Cate McCullough said while Shalom’s program was invaluable in helping men beat addiction, planning laws could not be ignored.
“The men in the program know they must follow the rules. Equally, the City has strict planning regulations and there are consequences for not following these rules,” she said.
Cr Charlie Zannino commended Cr Lyndon-James and his team for their valuable work but said the rehab centre did not comply on planning grounds.
There were more than 20 public deputations, including a Park Street resident who said she felt extremely intimidated by the residents in the program.
Those in support of Shalom said the centre was an asset to the community and did not detract from the tourism region.
Swan Chamber of Commerce president Gerry Hanssen said Shalom posed no threat, but Mayor David Lucas said opposition came from established vineyards including Mandoon Estate and Edgecombe Brothers.
Cr Zannino called on Planning Minister Rita Saffioti to outline her department’s position on Shalom’s zoning battle in light of the Swan Valley Planning Act review.
A spokesman for Ms Saffioti said the Minister would consider writing a submission to SAT on the interpretation of “community purpose” in general.
“Any decision by the SAT involving an interpretation of “community purpose” could have broader planning implications,” he said.
Peter Lyndon-James plans to develop a Bullsbrook property on Great Northern Highway for Shalom House.