NEDLANDS Council will start the consultation process for its proposed July 2016 partial closure of Sayer Street following a unanimous vote last week.
The proposed closure is the council’s protest against Defence Housing Australia (DHA) seeking State Government, not local government, approval for planned demolition of the SAS Regiment’s (SASR) Seaward Village, Swanbourne.
At last week’s meeting, DHA representative John Dietz said it had not been consulted about closing a section of Sayer Street that the council claims is ungazetted A-Class Reserve.
“DHA has simply been advised that council intends to close Sayer Street,” Mr Dietz said, before claiming DHA was the “owner” of the 22ha village’s 153 homes used by some of the SASR’s most experienced soldiers.
Nedlands deputy mayor Bill Hassell said all the motion did was enable the process of consultation before closing the road.
DHA’s $165 million proposal to use the village’s southern half for private lots, and the rest for 165 medium-density soldiers’ homes, has angered Swanbourne ratepayers, villagers and former SAS members because it could bring civilians to live within 200m of the adjacent, sensitive Campbell Barracks, increase traffic and destroy restored bush.
Recent DHA concept plans show civilian lots within 300m of ammunitions and explosives store and there are fears that to capitalise on the cost and sea views of premium coast blocks, some civilians may build two storeys.
“They’ll be looking over operational military land right in front of them,” Swanbourne Coastal Alliance convenor John-Paul Orsini said.
Other concerns include dense soldiers housing affecting physiological “decompressing” after deployments, civilians living in a cul-de-sac if there is a west-travelling bushfire and steep Sayer Street driveways.
Mr Orsini said flattening the village in its ecological corridor would cause wildlife to “have to move, or die, but probably die”.
In a recent Federal Cabinet reshuffle, former minister responsible for the DHA, Stuart Robert, was given the human services and veterans’ affairs portfolios. A spokesman for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said new Defence Minister Marise Payne and new Assistant Minister for Defence Darren Chester would discuss where DHA fitted among the defence ministries.