Joondaup council rejects Optus proposal for phone tower at Camberwarra Park, Craigie

Hillarys MLA Peter Katsambanis discusses the issue with lead petitioner Paul Roberts and other concerned residents.
Hillarys MLA Peter Katsambanis discusses the issue with lead petitioner Paul Roberts and other concerned residents.

OPTUS has failed in its bid to install a telecommunications tower at Camberwarra Park in Craigie.

At last week’s meeting Joondalup councillors unanimously refused the proposal for a galvanised monopole telecommunications tower to a maximum height of 31.75 with three antennas and a ground equipment shelter located next to the tennis courts and toilet block and about 23m from the nearest residential property.

Works would also require the relocation of the tennis court lighting.

The proposal was advertised for public comment to 639 property owners within 400m of the site, with the City receiving 49 submissions, of which 44 were objections, and a 145-signature petition, of which 136 were opposed.

At the council briefing, 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.

Craigie Action Group member Ozzie Kotur said they had attracted 300 supported on their Facebook page.

“I am yet to come across a person who believes the tower won’t impact day-to-day life,” he said.

However, Planning Solutions business services manager Laurie Chantry, representing Optus, said there were more than 1400 dwellings and “an even greater number of users” in the Craigie and Padbury area that “do not have effective mobile phone and data download coverage that will directly benefit by this facility”.

“This community deserves the same level of service the surrounding community enjoys,” he said.

“Optus has endeavoured to minimise the visual impact in its design and following community concern has been able to reduce the height of the monopole by 5m.

“The pole can also be coloured.”

The council document said the proposal did not “adequately meet the requirements” of City and State Government policies because of the “visual impact of the infrastructure upon the immediate locality”.

At the meeting, Cr Christopher May moved the City’s officers’ recommendation to refuse the proposal

“It doesn’t meet the guidelines and it’s inappropriate to have a huge tower next to tennis courts and a heavily utilised park,” he said.

Cr Russell Poliwka said phone companies needed to offer solutions “not so close to residents and not as visually unappealing”.

Though agreeing with the refusal, Cr John Chester said he was concerned about the coverage issues and hoped Optus would “work constructively” for a solution.

Optus will have the right to appeal the decision.

Ocean Reef tower to be extended

AT the same council meeting, Optus received unanimous approval to extend an existing telecommunications tower at Trigg Point Park in Ocean Reef.

The proposal was to extend the 22.14m tower by 2.26m and to relocate the antennas and add another three.

The proposal was advertised to 573 property owners within 400m of the Shoran Court site, with 45 submissions received including 40 objections.

The existing 22.14m tower at Trigg Point Park in Ocean Reef. Photo: Martin Kennealey

Concerns raised included electromagnetic emissions, the visual impact, the necessity of the infrastructure, the distance from properties and the potential effect on values and antisocial behaviour at the park.

Axicom town planner Joanna Ward said the pole extension was required as part of Optus’s nation-wide upgrade of its network and 4G rollout in the City.

She said the proposal would bring the structure to 24.4m which would not have “as much of a significant visual impact as a new structure at the park would be”.

She said the upgrade would mean the tower would host “all three primary carriers in the Australian marketplace, which is considered a beneficial outcome for the residential area”.

The council document said the proposal met the requirements of City and State Government policies and recommended it be conditionally approved including that no mature vegetation be removed.

Cr Philippa Taylor said the extension would be painted the same colour as the structure that had “been there for years” and would not have any affect on the park’s amenity.

“As a community, if we do continue to use this technology every day and demand high speeds then we do have to expect to see this sort of infrastructure around our suburbs,” she said.

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