Residents fight to keep Lathlain Park trees


Angry Lathlain residents at Perth Oval last week, protesting the planned removal of 98 mature trees to make way for a second oval to be built on the site, which they say is unnecessary.
Angry Lathlain residents at Perth Oval last week, protesting the planned removal of 98 mature trees to make way for a second oval to be built on the site, which they say is unnecessary.

A GROUP of Lathlain residents are furious at plans by the West Coast Eagles to develop two ovals on Lathlain Park, leading to the removal of 98 mature trees.

The Eagles insist they need two ovals, one the size of the MCG, to provide access for the AFL club, the Perth Football Club and community use

They want to start forward ground works in the next few weeks.

Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett said community access to the single oval used by the Demons was limited.

“The new ovals, including the running track, will enable a far wider range of community access and activity than is currently possible,” Mr Nisbett said.

He said the second oval had been a part of the redevelopment plans from inception.

“It has been factored into the West Coast Eagles’ significant financial investment in the re-development,” he said.

About 60 residents met at the oval last Tuesday july19 to voice their concerns about the planned redevelopment.

They want the Town of Victoria Park to rescind its recent decision to approve a development application for the second oval at its next meeting on August 9.

Local resident Sue Coltrona said she believed the community had not been listened to.

“It was only on May 16 that they announced that 98 trees would go,” Ms Coltrona said.

“At every consultation and information session they have held, people have said loss of trees and public space is an issue. We don’t need the second oval; it is purely about the West Coast Eagles.”

At a special meeting on June 21 the council unanimously passed a staff recommendation to advise the WA Planning Commission to approve the Eagles’ application which will also be considered on the same day .

The council report said the location of the two ovals and future building envelope was determined during the Major Land Transaction Plan process undertaken between the Town, the Eagles and Perth FC in 2013.

“Whilst there is community concern in relation to a number of matters including the removal of trees, parking, traffic and removal of the dog-exercise facility, the proposal is consistent with that which has been contemplated for many years, consulted with the community and previously supported by council,” it said.

Renew Life Program director Warren Bow acknowledged that the submission of the application to start the ground-works could “appear to be rushed”.

“There may be a perception that this is a rushed project,” he said.

“The DA that relates to the forward works has been necessitated by the requirement to have two growing seasons for the turf that will be on the two ovals that will be provided by the WCE under this DA.”

Mr Nisbett said the only trees being removed were those necessary to enable the layout of the two oval configuration and the new training, administration and community centre.

He said they were all fundamental elements of the project.

He rejected claims that residents had not been involved in consultations since the project started three years ago.

“At the most recent open day in May, which more than 500 attended, the community feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” he said.

Mr Nisbett said groundworks for the two ovals was expected to start within “coming weeks”.

Perth FC chief executive officer Marty Atkins said the club was very appreciative of its inclusion in the planning to develop the Lathlain Precinct.

“The developed precinct when it is finished will significantly assist the club with its engagement with the community,” he said.

Mr Atkins said he was looking forward to the works starting soon.

Ms Coltrona said an online petition had been started at change.org with about 1500 signatures collected so far.

A special electors meeting was held on July 13 and a raft of motions was passed at the meeting.

They will be considered by the Victoria Park council at its August 9 meeting.