Edgewater residents continue fight against City of Joondalup for lower residential density

A 14-unit development had been proposed at this residential site on Chipala Court, Edgewater. Picture: Martin Kennealey
A 14-unit development had been proposed at this residential site on Chipala Court, Edgewater. Picture: Martin Kennealey

EDGEWATER residents are continuing to fight for lower residential density in their suburb.

As part of the City of Joondalup’s Local Housing Strategy, a section of Edgewater – Housing Opportunity Area 8 – has been zoned R20/R30 and R20/R40 to increase residential density in line with State Government infill targets.

In 2010, the City first drafted a strategy that zoned the housing opportunity area R20/R30.

It was advertised and letters sent to all residents, with 65 per cent of residents in Housing Opportunity Area 8 supporting the new zoning.

However, the Department of Planning did not support it.

“They told us to do more and in Housing Opportunity Area 8, we were told to expand the size and to increase the coding of the majority of the area to R20/R40, which we did because we had to,” Joondalup planning and community development director Dale Page said.

The City revised the strategy in 2013 and re-advertised it with letters sent only to those who would now be included in expanded areas.

“We didn’t write to every landowner already in a housing opportunity area because this increase had been specified by the Department of Planning and the City really didn’t have any room to move,” Ms Page said.

The City adopted the revised strategy in 2013, which the Department of Planning endorsed.

Since then, the City has been receiving applications to develop at higher densities, with some causing angst in the community.

An example in Edgewater was a 14-unit development across 1 and 3 Chipala Court.

The proposal was recommended for refusal but councillors deferred the item in September to allow the developer to amend the application to address concerns.

Concerned residents again came together on Monday, filling the Joondalup council chamber for a special meeting of electors.

Edgewater Community Residents’ Association (ECRA) secretary Beth Hewitt said Edgewater was established in “peaceful bushland settings” where most residents were attracted to the “quiet lifestyle” and “quiet streets where the majority are small cul-de-sacs and no-through roads”.

She said the suburb was at risk of losing its “lifestyle, character and family feel” with the development of apartments that would see an “increase in noise, loss of trees, increased temperatures and people living in poorly designed small spaces”.

ECRA chairman Alexis Anderson moved a motion to initiate a review of the Local Housing Strategy and an amendment to District Planning Scheme 2 to reduce the density of R20/R40 lots in Housing Opportunity Area 8 to no higher than R20/R30.

However, former State politician and Edgewater resident Ken Travers said he wanted to “test the mood of the meeting” and reduce density further to just R20 “until a proper plan is developed”.

The amendment was passed but at the end of the meeting, Mr Anderson requested the motion be changed back to R20/R30.

“I don’t feel the City would take seriously the return to R20 whereas to move back to R30 is something the councillors would probably consider as this was the original intent of the City’s Local Housing Strategy,” he said.

Mayor Albert Jacob said meeting procedures would not allow this but his concerns would be noted.

Ms Page said an amendment would not be a “quick or simple solution” to residents’ concerns.

“To make an ad hoc change to the housing opportunity areas so soon after adoption of the strategy would not be in the interests of orderly and proper planning and such a change is unlikely to be supported by the Department of Planning,” she said.

She said even if the council decided to amend the scheme to reduce the density in Housing Opportunity Area 8, it could take 12 months or more “and we wouldn’t be able to prevent development from occurring in the interim”.

“Even if the scheme was successfully amended, this would not prevent the development of multiple dwellings, which can still be developed at R30, albeit at a reduced scale,” she said.

“Matters relating to design and streetscape and construction impacts would essentially be similar, if not the same.

“Not only would amending out scheme to reduce the density not be in the interest of orderly and proper planning, it may not be the panacea residents were hoping for.”

Ms Page said if the City was to “go back to the drawing board”, they ran the risk of being asked to increase the density more.

“We could end up much worse off that we are today,” she said.

Resident Mike Moore also moved a motion to formally request the Planning Minister cancel Amendment 73 so the City can “start again and develop a local housing policy that respects the needs the community and all residents and delivers an equitable outcome”.

Another resident moved a third motion to not proceed with the approval of development on 7 and 56 Tuart Trail, which was unanimously passed.

City officers will now prepare a report on the motions which will be presented to the council at a future meeting.

The call for a special meeting of electors followed a similar one in April where Duncraig residents also moved motions to reduce density in their suburb.

In May, the council voted to initiate an amendment to the City’s district planning scheme to reduce the density coding and to develop a new local planning policy to restrict the development of multiple dwellings in this area.

More needs to be done to address density concerns, says Joondalup MLA

JOONDALUP MLA Emily Hamilton agrees the State Government needs to work with the City of Joondalup to address infill density concerns.

The Edgewater resident attended Monday’s special meeting of electors to express her own concerns.

“It’s true we need to continue to increase density in our suburbs and this is a requirement from the State Government,” she said.

“But we do need to make sure it’s being done in the right way; in a well thought out, planned and consultative way that we end up with good quality housing options.

“We need to stay true to the urban amenity and not detract from it.

“We don’t want to see apartments scattered around in an ad hoc way and local streets that are unable to sustain demand.

“The State Government needs to work with the City and ensure there is a focus in identifying areas to lift density while protecting what is good in our suburbs.”

She said a review of the scheme to “deliver density in a better way” would be “beneficial”.

“The State Government is going to be undertaking a planning review process to look at planning policies with a focus on the role the community can play in this process,” she said.

“We will also be seeing stage one of Design WA delivered early next year and stage two will be focused around design and planning for neighbourhoods.”

Joondalup planning and community development director Dale Page said Design WA’s policy provisions for apartments and multiple dwellings would “solve some of the issues currently being experienced by residents and some of the challenges the City is facing in resolving these”.

However, she said it still did not do enough.

“They need to allow us to create our own policies to tailor for our local situation,” she said.

She said the State Government had been “more receptive to scheme and policy provisions to deal with local circumstances” and City planning staff had had “a number of meetings about possible solutions”, with a report to be presented to the council on Tuesday night.

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