Shire seeks to protect suburb

Work on the Hodges Drive upgrade is progressing well and will be completed within a few weeks.
Work on the Hodges Drive upgrade is progressing well and will be completed within a few weeks.

‘We’re protecting ourselves in the long-term, whether there’s amalgamations in the future or not,’ Shire of Peppermint Grove chief executive John Merrick said.

In a 2010 survey, the suburb’s 1652 residents supported overall protection for their streets and large lots and buildings, including 101 properties separately heritage listed in a precinct east of adjacent Stirling Highway.

However, the State Government’s Directions 2031 planning policy also wants more commuter apartments on the highway, which council staff said could result in ‘historic buildings being surrounded by unsympathetic development’.

At their May meeting, councillors proposed to change the Shire’s draft Local Planning Scheme No.4 so the definition of heritage included all the suburb.

If approved by the Government, LPS4 would reduce housing density in Peppermint Grove from R12.5 to R10 to stop any further subdividing of the suburb’s large blocks.

Shire President Rachel Thomas said the council was not bidding to preserve the suburb ‘in aspic’ and it recognised the need for apartments in Peppermint Grove’s part of Stirling Highway for Directions 2031.

‘So what we are doing is making provision for extra residences along the strip but protecting the character of our shire east of Stirling Highway, including some heritage-listed sites such as the old school, the Catholic church, plus the library and its gardens,’ Mrs Thomas said

However, councillors need Government dispensation to vote on the LPS4 proposals because their homes are affected by the changes.

Planning Minister John Day said while there were many Peppermint Grove homes worthy of heritage protection, his view was it would be ‘nonsensical’ to apply it to the whole suburb because not all residences were significant.