Council forced to lower sights on College Grove plans

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Bunbury City Council votes unanimously in support of a lower zone development for College Grove.
Camera IconBunbury City Council votes unanimously in support of a lower zone development for College Grove. Credit: Graphic / South Western Times

Bunbury City Council has bowed to public pressure over long-standing concerns about the development of land in College Grove.

Despite a recommendation from city staff for the council to approve a higher density 30-home proposal for the suburb, councillors voted unanimously in support of a lower zone development.

The decision follows several years of community consultation after an initial proposal — which included social housing — sparked a public backlash.

A new buyer took over the site, vowing to work with neighbours to come up with a more suitable development for the suburb.

The development put forward was for 10 low and 20 medium-density residential lots along with public open space.

But the latest proposal did little to ease community concern, with a big crowd attending the council’s meeting this week.

Resident John Robinson told the council, the community was disappointed to be in the same situation as four years ago and that the density of the development along with increased traffic was a concern.

“We’re not opposed to the block being developed, it’s the high-density number of units that will not fit in with the existing low-density surrounds that we are opposed to,” Mr Robinson said.

“No amount of safety measures or compensations posed will sway our acceptance of 30 units, we chose to live here to get away from built-up areas where the density is higher.

“We will have to live with the high-density units every day, so we hope our wishes are prioritised over profit.”

Tecon Australia WA director Gary Fitzgerald also made a presentation to the council on behalf of the developers saying the company had consulted with the council and community throughout the project and addressed flora and fauna protection and traffic concerns.

He said the proposal complied with State, regional and local planning scheme requirements.

“I know the community’s concern and we appreciate the community’s concerns,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“The nature of development that we’re proposing in regards to density, is justified by virtue of the fact that you have State policies that support it.

“It provides a full range of housing types and densities that meets the needs for a range of people, it provides local variations and neighbourhood character and it ensures, as far as possible, a high level of amenity within the area.”

After the executive recommendation failed to get a mover at the council’s meeting, Cr James Hayward successfully put forward an alternative motion to support the development only at low density and to request Main Roads to review traffic management.

While Cr Hayward acknowledged the developers had the right to challenge the decision through the State Administrative Tribunal, he said it was a risk the council should take.

The plans will be forwarded on to the Western Australian Planning Commission for approval.

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