City of Stirling and State Government in conflict over Mt Lawley density

7-9 Field Street Mt lawley which is being proposed to be rezoned to R60. Photo: Andrew Ritchie
7-9 Field Street Mt lawley which is being proposed to be rezoned to R60. Photo: Andrew Ritchie

A FORMER drug rehabilitation facility in Mt Lawley is in a rezoning tug-of-war between City of Stirling and the State Government.

Stirling Council has been fighting against rezoning the Field Street land since 2017 because it believed increased density would be inconsistent with the surrounding area.

The site has been vacant since the WA Alcohol and Drug Authority relocated two years ago and the State Government wants to build housing on the land.

Council rejected rezoning the site to R80 in May 2017 though subsequently approved an R20 coding, which would allow a maximum of six lots created on the site if subdivided or six grouped dwellings without subdivision.

But last September, Planning Minister Rita Saffioti instructed the area be rezoned to R60, which would allow for a 20-unit apartment building up to three storeys high.

City of Stirling was required to re-advertise the proposal and received 15 submissions, of which eight objected.

A City report presented at the February 12 council meeting said the rezoning was inconsistent with its planning framework for the Beaufort Street activity corridor, which was based on extensive community feedback and allowed intensive developments on lots fronting and immediately behind Beaufort Street.

It said existing densities should be maintained in surrounding areas and noted the area around the site was purposely reduced in density in 1995.

“Should this rezoning be approved, it may set a precedent for owners of other sites to apply for their property to be rezoned with no strategic basis and in a way which is inconsistent with the City’s draft local planning strategy,” it said.

Council voted to keep with its preferred R20 zoning, but it would ultimately be decided by the WA Planning Commission and Ms Saffioti.

Mt Lawley MLA Simon Millman tried to allay any concerns about density increases in the suburb and said he sought assurance from Ms Saffioti that “the amenity of local neighbourhoods” would be preserved.

“In my experience people who live in the inner city understand the reasoning for increased density,” he said.

Mr Millman said the proposed amendments for both R-code levels included conditions to retain trees on the site and believed the Design WA guidelines released in February would help maintain the existing streetscape.