CRAIGIE residents are again fighting a proposed Optus telecommunications tower at Camberwarra Park.
About 95 people attended a community meeting at the park yesterday morning with Joondalup councillors Christopher May, Russell Poliwka and Mike Norman attending to hear residents’ concerns.
In May, councillors unanimously refused a 31.75m tower, which would be installed next to the tennis courts and toilet block and about 23m from the nearest residential property.
At the time, residents raised concerns of the visual impact and size of the tower, restricting children’s access to the playground, it’s proximity to Craigie Heights Primary School and electromagnetic emissions.
Optus appealed the council’s refusal at the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) and through this process, the proposal has been revised and the council has been invited to reconsider its decision.
The revised proposal included reducing the total height to 25m and providing a visual impact assessment that states the tower would have a small impact in some locations but the “character of the landscape has the ability to accommodate the change”.
The City engaged an external consultant to review the visual impact assessment and has recommended the revised proposal be conditionally approved.
This would see the tower replace a tennis court floodlight so there is not another vertical infrastructure item in the park.
At Tuesday’s council briefing, residents expressed their disappointment to be “back in this position”.
“A lot of the park is already taken up by a drainage site and now we’re going to lose more,” Robert Edwards said.
“It will be a visual eyesore.
“There are plenty of other options and areas for the tower that are not backing into residents’ gardens.”
Other suggested sites included bushland near the Craigie Leisure Centre, Beenyup Wastewater Treatment Plant and Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park.
Patricia Re said reducing the height of the tower would only bring “the ugliest part of the tower – the antenna – into view”.
“The site is quite low so the negative impact on amenity remains the same,” she said.
She said park-goers would be reluctant to visit because of the “perceived health effects”.
A petition has also been prepared to protect the trees in the area.
Speaking on behalf of Optus, Planning Solutions director Ben Doyle said they had looked at alternative sites in the park and surrounding area but none were feasible.
He said the reduced height of the tower would have a “minor impact on the surrounding area, taking into account the topography of the site and the tree canopy”.
He added that Optus was also applying to install another tower near Craigie Leisure Centre to “provide the capacity for increased streaming”.
However, resident Alice Edwards said she had been with Optus for five years and “never had a problem with data, internet or mobile services”.
Planning and community development director Dale Page confirmed the City had received another application but “on environmental grounds” had asked Optus to do more work on it.
She said while the City didn’t believe the revised Camberwarra Park proposal was “ideal from a community perspective”, the visual impact had been reduced.
If the council approves the application at tomorrow night’s meeting, it is likely Optus will withdraw its appeal to SAT if it agrees with the conditions.
However, if the council again refuses the application, it is expected Optus would proceed to a full SAT hearing.