LAKELANDS Country Club’s eight-month battle for development approval to build a retirement village in Gnangara ended this week.
After previously refusing the application in February and following mediation through the State Administrative Tribunal, the North-West Metropolitan Development Assessment Panel (DAP) approved the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting.
More than 60 people filled the Wanneroo council chambers gallery to hear the four-member panel’s decision, with Ian Birch and Peter Addison replacing specialist members Fred Zuideveld and Paul Drechsler, along with Wanneroo councillor Russell Driver.
The City of Wanneroo and WA Planning Commission (WAPC) had recommended refusing the development, citing that the urban nature of the retirement village was inconsistent with the area’s rural zoning and State planning policies, and it was premature given the area was only identified as potential urban.
A Metropolitan Region Scheme (MRS) amendment to rezone the area from rural to urban deferred is being considered by the Planning Minister.
Both reports offered alternative recommendations if the proposal was supported by the panel, subject to conditions.
Lavan Legal solicitor Brendan Foley presented on behalf of the applicant and said the reports recognised that the development was capable of approval.
“There is discretion for DAP to approve the application and our view is that it should be approved,” he said.
City planning implementation manager Pas Bracone said though the City acknowledged the capability, “it doesn’t mean it should be approved”.
Urbis associate director Peter Fitzgerald argued against the prematurity of the development and lack of infrastructure in the area.
He said it was “far from being isolated”, would be fully serviced in regards to roads and rubbish, and offer an abundance of facilities including hairdresser, library and bus service.
“Our proposal provides a great deal of amenity and connection,” he said.
WAPC representative Sally Grebe disagreed as the MRS amendment was still being considered.
“The Government is investigating potential major infrastructure to occur in this area,” she said.
“The WAPC has guidelines in MRS amendments; there are specific requirements that do need to be addressed.”
Mackay Urban Design architect Malcolm Mackay and club director Trevor Beazley also provided deputations supporting the proposal, before the panel voted.
Cr Frank Cvitan moved to support the City’s recommendation for refusal, which was seconded by Mr Addison, and said he saw merit in the proposal but it was ad hoc and had “too many flaws”.
“It’s a great concept but it really does have to get everything put into place,” he said.
Mr Addison said he had seen examples of developments built with a lack of planning in the early stages that ultimately negatively affected residents and the community.
“I believe this proposal doesn’t tick all the boxes,” he said.
Presiding member Karen Hyde objected and said she was satisfied with the information provided.
“I see this area as an area in transition; the area could become urban and certainly urban deferred,” she said.
“I take the point it’s not in the town centre but an environment like this has a reasonable amount of self-sufficiency.”
Mr Birch said he could not justify the reasons given for refusing the application.
“It’s a use that’s capable of being approved, through the design process they’ve covered off virtually all matters to be considered,” he said.
“I understand in many respects it is (premature) but I don’t see we can use that as reason for refusing the application.”
Ms Hyde used her vote as presiding member to defeat Cr Cvitan’s motion and put forward the alternative recommendation for approval subject to amended conditions.
This was seconded by Mr Birch, with Cr Cvitan and Mr Addison voting against, but passed from Ms Hyde’s vote.
Following applause from the gallery, Ms Hyde told them “this is not a theatre, it isn’t a show, this is a planning meeting”.
Cr Cvitan’s motion to support the WAPC’s recommendation was also lost and the alternative passed with amended conditions 2-2 from Ms Hyde’s vote.
Club president John Alchin said he was “over the moon” after the result.
He said the next step was to reduce the land titles from three to two and after selling one lot for development, earthworks could begin on the site.
“We’re looking forward to working with the developer, council and members to benefit the community and our members,” he said.