City of Kalamunda aged care committee calls for Supreme Court appeal to revoking of planning changes for Wilkins Rd facility

Aged care advocate Neil Pember has started the petition requesting the Minister reconsider her opposition to Wilkins Road and to support the amendment. Picture: Bruce Hunt d474480h
Aged care advocate Neil Pember has started the petition requesting the Minister reconsider her opposition to Wilkins Road and to support the amendment. Picture: Bruce Hunt d474480h

A SUPREME Court appeal is on the cards after the City of Kalamunda’s aged care committee called on councillors to challenge the State Government’s decision to revoke planning changes that would have paved the way for an aged care facility in Wilkins Road.

Last year Planning Minister Rita Saffioti revoked planning approval to rezone the 11ha site in Kalamunda, identified as suitable for aged care, based on numerous problems, including native title, bushfire mitigation, commercial viability and sewage.

Chief executive Rhonda Hardy said the City had spent more than $200,000 on rezoning Wilkins Road from parks and recreation to urban and staff were in the process of establishing costs for a Supreme Court challenge.

“There is no appeal process within statutory framework, only the judicial system can review decisions of the State Government,” she said.

“The City is aware the community has lodged a petition to the Legislative Council and that petition is currently being processed.”

The former Minister for Planning Donna Faragher announced approval to rezone the site to urban, through an amendment to the Metropolitan Region Scheme in January 2017.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services had approved a fire management plan and the Environmental Protection Authority had considered the amendment and decided it did not require assessment.

The Governor revoked the scheme amendment in October 2017.

Kalamunda MLA Matthew Hughes said the reserve was a contiguous part of the Darling Range Regional Park and there remained significant divided community opinion over the rezoning.

“Balancing the need for aged care against the conservation value of Wilkins Road is a serious matter,” he said.

“The proponents for retaining the parks and recreation status of Wilkins Road, based on its conservation value, and the proponents that it should be declassified to be used for an aged care facility hold diametrically opposing views.

“The decision to recommend placing the reserve in the urban zone was taken by the former Planning Minister, just prior to the caretaker period coming into effect ahead of the March 11 State Election.

“There is a view that this last minute decision was taken because the previous member for the Kalamunda, John Day, was vulnerable to criticism that no new aged care facilities had been approved in the 23 years he was member and his lack of advocacy in this regard.

“In this context it was appropriate that the recommendation of the previous Government be reviewed.

“This was done by Ms Saffioti who took the view that the decision by the previous minister was flawed which is why she recommended that the rezoning of Wilkins Road Reserve not proceed.

“My position remains that the decision to place Wilkins Road in the urban zone needs to meet the test that there are no other suitable alternative sites within the City to facilitate a viable business plan for aged care facilities, particularly the timely provision of high needs residential care.”

Council will consider a Supreme Court challenge in March.

Ms Saffioti was contacted for comment.

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