Shire of Kalamunda, a Home in the Forest?

I have one word to describe the Special Council meeting that was called to adopt the Local Planning Strategy tonight: Mindless.

Social psychologist Ellen Langer states that when an individual is mindless their thinking is dominated by a narrow perspective, they rigidly rely on narrow categories and fail to take into consideration different perspectives.

Never before have I seen so many councillors mindlessly pass a strategy that will dramatically impact on the natural environment, my community and future generations.

It became apparent at tonight’s meeting that the councillors had had only 3 days to look at the revised strategy, accompanying documents and compiled submissions, some noting that they hadn’t even had time to look at them.

And yet, they were quite confident in their decision to vote on passing the Planning Strategy.

The fact that there were 188 objections to rezoning Wattle Grove, 25 supporting and 7 neutral did not seem to make any difference to these mindless councillors.

11 out of 12 councillors voted for the strategy to be adopted.

The Shire's reasoning for ignoring the submissions of 85% of Wattle Grove Residents who Opposed the Planning Strategy (Click on image to enlarge)

Very little debate between councillors took place tonight. All councillor Stallard had to say on the matter of Wattle Grove becoming an urban development area was that “We can’t stop progress” and “If we don’t do it, someone else will do it”. Really deep.

The 1 councillor who opposed the strategy, Maureen Robinson, was not mindless. In fact, she was the complete opposite. She spoke passionately and authentically for the residents of Wattle Grove. You could tell she had taken the time to look through the revised Planning Strategy and really think about it. She questioned why the council is rushing into making such dramatic changes and moving to rezone for a population prediction for the year 2056.

Most importantly, she highlighted that the most important thing that came out of the “community consultations” was that residents wanted to retain their home in the forest. Yet, the planning strategy that was adopted tonight is the beginning of the destruction of the trees and the biodiversity of our area.

They can keep repeating the word “sustainable” and “sustainable growth” but we are not stupid. Do you really think that you can change the zoning of an area to include more houses, more people, more electricity, more cars, etc and you’re not going to have an impact on the environment or community?

The sad thing is that it no longer surprised or shocked me to see developer Ross Leighton being very familiar and chatting with the councillors.

At what point did our shire councillors stop listening to the people they are supposed to represent and only take into account the wishes of a vocal minority?

One thing is for sure, we need to reclaim our Shire. It’s going to take something, but it must be done.

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3 Responses

  1. If you want to impact on things like local Planning strategies then you need to start a lot earlier than this and you need to be commenting on the underpinnig documents eg Directions 2031. To a large degree the shire is at the mercy of WAPC and DOP who have a polciy to infill in the metro area to fulfill poulation growth needs into the future (2031). By the time it gets to this stage its largely too late. That’s not to say I am not sympathetic to your woes (and mine) but its just the way the planning process works. At the same time I am not impressed with the way Kalamunda Shires planning people work and what their sympathies are.

    If you are going to criticise and be listened to you also need to provide them with alternatives.

    The planning process is long and complicated and starts back a lot further than this LPS. Subscribing to WAPC planing updates is useful to get a bit of an edge on things.

    • Hi Aileen

      Thanks for your comments. In this case we have done everything you have suggested that we needed to do. We looked at Directions 2031 and commented on it. We hired town planners to find alternative sites for aged care facilities and yet, the Shire did not seem interested. Lawyers have also been involved. It’s not like we’ve sat around doing nothing for the past 7 years.

      I don’t think it’s too late. We will continue to fight to keep our area rural.

      Kind regards,

      The Wattle Grove Action Group

  2. I am so incredibly saddened by this. Reading the output by the Shire makes me realise this so called aged care facility is only the first step. If this re-zoning goes ahead, I can foresee Wattle Grove becoming a service centre for companies wishing to use the airport. That will be warehouses, office buildings and other such businesses. To have a view as to what will happen, just look at Horrie Miller Drive and think of other cities and how these areas, close to airports look.

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