Downside a worry

A COUPLE of weeks ago I attended a forum on the proposed mixed-use development in Archibald Street, Willagee to highlight the benefits of the redevelopment and the re-zoning of Willagee to higher densities.

Imagine my surprise when I read that I would be seeing many boutique shops come into the area, increased business along Archibald Street and that commercial construction would begin almost immediately. Even more mystifying was that come December, people would be able to apply for residential permits.

To my knowledge, the City of Melville has no planning applications, let alone the invention of residential permits for Archibald Street, neither has it plans to redevelop the area with four-storey, mixed-use developments.

The presentations didn’t give any information on the street’s development. Instead, it concentrated on subdivision, residential construction and financing.

The messages I got were that subdivision and redevelopment were expensive and took a lot of time and paperwork. Therefore, you might be better off to sell your home and let someone else redevelop (and reap the benefits).

There will be people who have invested in Willagee to take advantage of the re-zoning, and good for them. Willagee has many advantages in that respect.

What concerns me is that there is also a downside to re-zoning to higher densities and ‘revitalisation’. If not done with sensitivity and strong design guidelines, it will destroy the amenity and environment that many of us enjoy.

I understand WA’s population is growing faster than anywhere else in Australia is and newcomers need homes. I appreciate the Government wants us to live cheek and jowl to ‘stop the sprawl’, rather than invest in infrastructure and I understand that the ideology to fill in our back yards is to make public transport viable. The trouble is that it hasn’t stopped the sprawl and the infrastructure still needs to be built.

Willagee is surrounded on three sides with transport routes. It can accommodate more people with clever design and mixed-use development around the hubs, but we also need to retain the residential environment and ensure we protect our community from overcrowding.

With subdivision goes the trees; with the trees gone, we lose the birdsongs, the blossoms, the cooling effect of the canopies and the pleasure of all that beauty that gives our lives quality.

PATRICIA PHELAN, Willagee