Herne Hill at the heart of Swan Valley Development Plan

The draft Swan Valley Development Plan identifies Herne Hill as the area’s central town site.
The draft Swan Valley Development Plan identifies Herne Hill as the area’s central town site.

HERNE Hill is identified as the future town centre of the Swan Valley under the new draft Swan Valley Development Plan.

The plan aims to protect the area from inappropriate development and build on its tourism and agricultural potential.

Once approved, it will be used by proponents when preparing applications for development in the Swan Valley.

The purpose of Herne Hill town centre zone, between Great Northern Highway, McDonald Street and Argyle Street, is to consolidate residential and community activities to a dedicated hub.

It would be similar to a typical WA rural town, according to the plan and possibly have passenger rail links via the existing Avon Link service.

Planners say the zoning provides for Herne Hill to become a central focus for visitors, with the potential for a relocated Swan Valley visitor centre, farmers market, food and beverage hospitality outlets.

Swan Valley Winemakers Association president John Griffiths said members were overwhelmingly happy with the plan. He said currently there were discrepancies in what the local planning scheme, Swan Valley Planning Act and other guiding documents deemed acceptable development.

“Part of the problem now is there is a clear misfit between some developments under the local planning scheme and the intent of the SVPA,” he said

“One of the great things about this new way forward is that the whole vision for the Valley will be tied up in one policy and we’ll have no more of these misfits.”

Mr Griffiths used the example of places of worship on farming area in the Swan Valley, which have proliferated because they are a discretionary use of land at present. Under the new plan, places of worship would be restricted to the town site, which Mr Griffiths said was better.

The fundamental vision of the plan is to create “a world class food and beverage destination with exceptional visitor appeal”.

Planning Minister John Day said the Swan Valley needed greater protection and guidance to ensure its future.

“This draft plan prescribes what land uses are appropriate in the Swan Valley and how buildings should be designed, to ensure future developments reflect the character of the area,” he said.

“It strikes a balance between appropriate growth of the food, beverage and tourism industry, while protecting rural character and agricultural land from competing, incompatible land uses.”

Subdivision is restricted to four-hectare lots in the Swan Valley planning area, except for a small rural residential pocket where two-hectare lots is the minimum size.

Swan Valley Planning Committee chairman Derrick Tomlinson said there would be some people disappointed with the plan.

“Whenever government act to direct what people may do with private property, there will be some difference of opinion.”

Dr Tomlinson said agriculture was still viable in the Swan Valley.

“It will have to be boutique produce, identifiable as Swan Valley produce that people will want to buy,” he said.

Public comment period closes on December 15 and the plan can be viewed at www.planning. wa.gov.au/publications/8045.asp.