Report a character study

The report titled The Way Forward? Swan Valley Land Use and Development was two years in the making and was prompted by community concerns regarding threats to the rural nature of the area, including increased commercial and tourism development and subdivision. It followed a strong response to a 2012 discussion paper on the future of the area.

There were more than 160 public submissions made by interested parties, ranging from social and rural living trends, the character and landscape of the area, the viability of traditional agriculture, fragmentation of agricultural land, the local economy, services and infrastructure, access to sustainable water supply and transport issues.

The 30-page document makes nine key recommendations for planning of the community, including the introduction of new governance and regulatory frameworks and changes to the Swan Valley Planning Act and the Swan Valley Planning Committee.

Encouraging agricultural production across the Valley and a restricting to the subdivision of priority agricultural land was also recommended.

Department of Planning acting director general Duncan Ord said it was important to recognise the significance of the Swan Valley ” its lifestyle, agriculture, winemaking, tourism and business ” in context of the State’s overall best interest.

‘This report recommends appropriate measures to maintain and protect the region while WA’s population and economy continues to grow,’ Mr Ord said.

‘These measures are integral to the Swan Valley growing sustainably, while enabling new opportunities to flourish.’

Other key proposals of the report include:

– Separating heavy haulage vehicles from local traffic to encourage the Valley as a primary tourist destination, rather than a transport throughway.

– The establishment of a working group led by the WA Planning Commission and consisting of the City of Swan, Chair of the Swan Valley Planning Committee, Department of Agriculture and Food, Department of Water and Tourism WA to implement the recommendations of the report.

The report will now be considered by the Government, which will make a final decision on its recommendations early next year.

An important consideration for the City of Swan and the WAPC will be how to best manage any new applications for change during the interim period.

The role of the new working group is understood to include the formulation of interim planning measures to provide advice and guide determinations. Those measures would still be subject to WAPC approval.