A PLANNING loophole has allowed a Viveash developer to clear bushland without community consultation or a clearing permit.
More parcels of bushland around Perth could also be under threat from the same planning anomaly.
Viveash residents were shocked to see eucalyptus wandoo bushland torn down without notice.
The bushland had served as an informal buffer zone between them and the neighbouring brickworks ever since Viveash was established in 1968.
The parcel of bush, identified as protected in the City of Swan’s biodiversity strategy, was approved for subdivision in 1968 but has been undeveloped until now.
The expectation in the Viveash community was that when the time came to develop the area, it would be subject to modern processes like community consultation, development application approval and environmental approvals.
But that has not been the case.
Land developer Pindan bought the land from the neighbouring brickworks and was able to develop in accordance with the plans from the 1960s, when environmental and community scrutiny were not as significant to the development processes.
A Department of Environmental Regulation spokeswoman said the matter was being investigated.
The DER confirmed Pindan did not apply for a clearing permit and said the developers were possibly exempt from requiring one.
Midland MLA Michelle Roberts said she was “dumbfounded” by the process.
“It is unbelievable that a parcel of land can sit idle for 50 years after it has had subdivision approval and not be subject to the same checks and balances as new approvals are,” she said.
“When a home builder submits a plan to build, they have two years to construct that home or they are subject to resubmitting that plan, yet a developer appears to have an infinite amount of time as in this case, where development has taken 50 years to proceed.
“This is an anomaly that needs to be urgently reviewed.”
But Pindan has assured those concerned that everything was by the book.
“Given that the lots are all individually titled, there is no statutory requirement for consultation to carry out civil works,” a Pindan spokeswoman said.
The developer also held an independent environmental assessment, which “found nothing of significance should clearing be required”.
“Pindan has received 16 letters of consent from adjoining landowners in relation to interface works and we have found on balance the adjoining land owners to be amicable to the works occurring,” she said.
Despite Pindan’s assurances, many residents claim the first they knew about the bush clearing was when the bulldozers moved in.
Viveash resident of 48 years Terry McCartney said it was the way Pindan went about the development that incensed residents.
“It could have all been so much better if they’d had a public meeting instead of all this secrecy, with no one knowing what’s going on until the trucks show up,” he said.
Other residents have lamented the dust and vibration caused by construction machinery, with complaints about cracked walls and pools.
Swan chief executive Mike Foley said he would arrange for Pindan and residents to meet.