NEDLANDS Council has bypassed Defence Department objections and decided to close Sayer Street that serves as a secondary entrance to the SAS Seaward Village in Swanbourne.
“Defence’s primary objection was that Seaward Village is in a high bushfire risk area and the closure would limit emergency access and egress,” a Defence Department spokesman said.
At the meeting last month, the council agreed to close a section of the street between ratepayers’ homes and the village, and install gates for emergency services.
The decision followed residents’ concerns about more traffic on the narrow street, which is still part of the adjacent A-Class Allen Park, during controversy about Defence Housing Australia’s recently failed attempt to redevelop the village for 160 private homes.
The council was also irked by the proposal avoiding its planning approval process.
Defence also opposed Sayer Street’s closure because it would restrict soldiers and their wives getting to nearby facilities, shops, schools and Cottesloe, forcing them to use busy West Coast Highway as their only entry to the village.
Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins said he believed Defence’s objections were over-stated because there were already gates from Campbell Barracks to West Coast Highway for emergency use and any village evacuation would be through unlocked gates that would be installed as soon as they are designed and constructed.
“Full integration of the ‘road’ into Allen Park will not be possible as a sealed road has to be retained for emergency vehicles; however the cessation of regulated traffic will result in a quieter and safer local environment,” he said.
The Federal Government decided to scrap DHA’s plans and refurbish the village in April.
DHA acting-managing director Jan Mason said the subsequent refurbishment could be done with or without Sayer Street being closed, and what the Department of Defence, ratepayers, village residents and the council wanted from the work was gathered at information sessions on June 29.