The City of Bayswater contains a few environmental gems. Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary is one of them, and courtesy of a $3 million investment over the last few years, it will remain so. However, the public is just learning that right next door is private land.
Literally just on the other side of the main path are a couple of super blocks. No one would know this because it just looks like a part of the bird sanctuary. I didn’t know this either until a planning application came to council seeking approval for a significant sub-division. And what you are seeing now is just the start, because an application to subdivide the other, even more environmentally sensitive block, will soon follow.
There is no law which prevents the owner from developing; they are perfectly within their rights. When people subdivide big lots they either need to contribute some of the block for “public open space” or pay money in lieu of providing the public open space. These funds are then used by the council to activate/upgrade public open space in the vicinity.
Council (narrowly) supported the Officer’s recommendation which was to insist on the public open space rather than the money so that a buffer of sorts would at least exist between the proposed homes and the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary. The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC), who I have previously criticised before, are the ruling body for sub-divisions, and despite the council, and Officer’s recommendation, they have approved the plans.
I know the wider public will be very distressed by the removal of these wetlands/swap and will want someone to blame. Categorically it should not be the owners. The two blocks have been owned by two different families for many decades; I think 40+ years. People buy land in order to make a financial return and this is now occurring. I was only informed about the WAPC approval yesterday and spoke to one of the owners about the turtles which inhabit the area. They are now getting an environmental consultant, at their cost, to investigate on Monday. Hopefully this will be in conjunction with the City of Bayswater’s environmental Officer’s.
If the land is of great environmental significance, then perhaps the City of Bayswater should have addressed this years ago. Buying the block, re-zoning it were all opportunities. Certainly I hope the private ownership was factored in when committing $3 million to the Bird Sanctuary and doing the designs.
Surely the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW) and the Department of Environmental Regulation (DER) should have played some role in ensuring the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary is protected as much as possible. The DER have issued ‘a guide to the assessment of applications to clear native vegetation‘ which doesn’t seem to have been followed. And if true that the DPAW has given clearing permission without any conditions then that is a dereliction of duty. At the very least there should have been a turtle and fauna survey with the aim of relocating the animals to the actual bird sanctuary on the other side of the path.
And as for the WAPC, they need to answer why they feel there doesn’t need to be a buffer between the development and the newly designed Bird Sanctuary. Or perhaps they just don’t care as long as it’s promoting infill and development.
Power to the people.
(Please be aware that these views are my own and have not been endorsed by the City of Bayswater)