Hillarys: steps towards Jacob’s Ladder-like facility in the northern suburbs


A Jacob's Ladder-inspired structure could be built in Hillarys. Picture: Martin Kennealey        www.communitypix.com.au   d456585
A Jacob's Ladder-inspired structure could be built in Hillarys. Picture: Martin Kennealey        www.communitypix.com.au d456585

A STAIRCASE dubbed the ‘Jacob’s Ladder of the north’ could be coming to Hillarys.

At the City of Joondalup’s June 28 meeting, councillors voted to support the construction of a stairway on the northern dune system at Whitfords Nodes Park subject to most or all of the cost being funded by external sources.

The Harbour Rise Homeowners Association first proposed the fitness staircase, which would link the grassed area to the northern lookout, in 2012.

The council considered the project, which was recommended for refusal, in 2014 and voted to refer it back to the chief executive to examine alternative technologies and funding options and the likelihood of environmental approval.

At the time, it was proposed to use galvanised steel and composite plastic and after investigations, this is still the preferred option at an estimated construction cost of $345,500.

City officers and the association has been investigating funding options including a Lotterywest community spaces grant, Federal or State government grants or corporate sponsorship, such as HBF.

At the June 14 council briefing, association committee member Paul Mavor said the staircase would be a “major passive recreational facility to rival Jacob’s Ladder in Kings Park” and would promote a healthy lifestyle in the City of Joondalup.

“Many people want to exercise by themselves… and not necessarily be part of an organised sporting club,” he said.

“Unlike Jacob’s Ladder, the proposed staircase will be 2m wide with passing landings; Jacob’s Ladder is 1.3m wide.

“It will have plenty of parking and be well away from neighbours, which is two of the main reasons why Jacob’s Ladder is failing at the moment.”

He said the staircase would have a low impact on the environment because it would sit above the majority of the vegetation and there were plans for replanting and rehabilitation with help from the Friends of Sorrento Beach and Marmion Coast Care groups.

Infrastructure services director Nico Claassen said he was confident the staircase could be constructed while minimising the impact on the dunes.

A council document said the staircase would have the “potential to attract visitors from outside the City’s boundaries” and would “reduce the distance and the time taken to access the northern lookout”.

It also listed risks to consider, including the clearing of bushland leaving the area vulnerable to dune erosion.

It said the staircase “may have an environmental impact on the dunal system” that would “have to be weighed against the amenity value achieved by the construction”.

Cr Mike Norman said at the meeting he believed this could be “one of the best valued public recreational projects the council has ever considered”.

“Many times we have voted to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on floodlighting and millions of dollars on community sporting facilities but the number of people involved in using this proposed facility for unstructured exercise could well exceed the number of users of any one of those facilities,” he said.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $395,000 with a $3000 annual operating cost.

Councillors voted to list for consideration $30,000 in the 2017-18 five-year capital works program to develop detailed construction drawings to be used for a grant funding proposal and planning approval and a further $365,000 in 2018-19 for construction, subject to most or all of it being funded by external sources.

The City will be required to consult the WA Planning Commission before it can proceed.

This will require a formal proposal so the commission can confirm it complies with the definition of a “parks and recreation” reserve, the park’s Bush Forever designation and coastal planning policy.

The City will then need to apply to the Department of Environmental Regulation for a permit to clear native vegetation for construction to proceed.