Concerns raised about Town of Victoria Park changes to planning scheme

Rick Snedden is leading the charge against the Town of Victoria. Picture: Jon Hewson
Rick Snedden is leading the charge against the Town of Victoria. Picture: Jon Hewson

CONCERNS have been raised about the Town of Victoria Park’s changes to its town planning scheme in a bid to maintain historic buildings.

Amendment 73 aims to create a special control area around large parts of Victoria Park, where residents will need development approvals to demolish ‘original dwellings’, and gives the council the ability to serve conservation notices for owners of original dwellings, who do not maintain their properties.

As part of proposal, the Town of Victoria Park will be able to enter the ‘original dwelling’ and carry out repairs, the expenses incurred by the council would then be able to recover as a debt due.

There are about 4990 properties located in the proposed special control area, with around half of the properties indentified as containing an ‘original dwelling’.

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South Perth resident Rick Snedden owns a property in East Victoria Park that would be affected by the proposal.

“The conservation notice is a major concern, if the owners of a property refuse to make the changes then they will be forced by the council to make the changes just for the sake of the aesthetic of the streetscape,” he said.

“Residents will need to put a development application to the council to make changes, which will cost $147 and that is expensive for families.”

Mr Snedden said the council was being “ambiguous” about what styles of houses it wanted to maintain.

“I have massive concerns about what exactly the Town are trying to maintain because there are many variables within the Town,” he said.

“A letter that went out to residents understated the potential of the changes so I’d call for the Town to be more transparent,” he said.

Town of Victoria Park future life and built life director Rochelle Lavery said the introduction of the State Government’s Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 had impacted on the Town’s planning scheme and policies.

“The regulations contain provisions which override the Town’s Planning Scheme, including removing the need for development approval for demolition of a single house, and the need for development approval for new development where compliant with the R-Codes,” she said.

“As these forms of development are now exempt from development approval, council’s policies do not apply, in which case council has no ability to protect the ‘original’ character dwellings in the Town from demolition, nor the ability to ensure that new development is of a standard that fits into its streetscape.”

Ms Lavery said ‘original dwellings’ in the special control area would be assessed on their architectural style, size and scale and setback from the street amongst other factors.

She said the ability of the council to come on to someone’s property and commence repairs would only be exercised in “extreme cases” where it had been unable to negotiate agreement with an owner as to the repairs or modifications required to restore an ‘original dwelling’ to a reasonable standard or state of repair.

A community meeting will be held on Thursday at the council’s administration building from 6pm and submissions welcome until March 21.

It is expected council will consider the amendment during May.