Fight to save Helena Valley lake gathers pace

A campaign poster made by students, and (right) a  long-necked tortoise in the lake.
Fight to save Helena Valley lake gathers pace
A campaign poster made by students, and (right) a long-necked tortoise in the lake.

HELENA Valley residents have provided planners with a proposal to save their lake, wetlands and wildlife from a housing development.

Campaigners Don and Sue McCann mapped out their alternative plan after gathering input from more than 70 people at a public meeting on Sunday.

Mrs McCann, of Carabeen Avenue, said the overall view shared among residents was that the Hills’ lifestyle was under threat of developers destroying hundreds of trees and wildlife habitat.

She said many species of birds frequent the area and the lake was home to long-necked tortoises and frogs.

Many people also aired concerns about the inevitable increase in traffic.

“The roads in our ‘reserve subdivision’ are very narrow, with poor visibility at narrow corners; a number of minor accidents have occurred and many near misses,” Mrs McCann said.

“Residents want to know why the Shire of Mundaring is not listening to the people of the area.”

High school children, who live nearby, designed campaign posters and delivered a letterbox drop to more than 500 homes.

Mr McCann said more than 300 people signed a petition against the proposal and more signatures are expected at future meetings.

“The main concern was the way we heard about the proposal,” Mr McCann said.

“During our meeting, it became clear that even the Helena Valley Estate Residents Association was unaware of the proposal.”

Mr McCann said under the current plan, the lake would be ‘filled in’ and 80 per cent of the wetland area would be lost.

“Our draft proposal would mean only 15 per cent of the wetland would be lost if the applicant was prepared to sacrifice five of the 66 houses proposed.”

The residents’ plan also considers the bushfire hazard and maps out an exit via Melita Street into an existing bush road to Helena Valley Road.

Mr McCann said retention of the lake and wetlands should be included at the earliest stages.

Campaigners have asked the Shire to extend the submission period from November 20 to December 14, after receiving two weeks notification of the proposal.

The former owner of the land contacted Mr McCann to advise the land had been sold six months ago.

“We explain on the campaign website that she is no longer the owner, but her details remain on the Shire documents,” Mr McCann said.

The Gazette asked the Shire to provide the name of the new applicant.

Shire chief executive Jonathan Throssell said the name would “become available when the next report goes to council”.

Perth CBD-based TPG Town Planning, Urban Design and Heritage confirmed the project was on its books.

Councillors unanimously agreed in July to advertise the structure plan containing the proposal following completion of several modifications.

The proposed residential R20 lots (average lot size 450 sq m) are 20m from a former landfill site.

One of the modifications asked for by the Shire was more “detail on the nature and extent of contamination and its remediation”.

Mr Throssell said the council would consider the multiple environmental issues on the site. He confirmed about 75 letters were sent to nearby homes.

The proposal is likely to come before the council in January, and Mr Throssell said once submissions had been considered, it was possible further information or modifications could be requested by the council.

After a council vote, the application would be referred to Western Australian Planning Commission for a final decision.