South Perth Foreshore – commercialisation fears

Sign on Mill Point Road, in South Perth (20/07/13)

Sign on Mill Point Road, in South Perth (20/07/13)

‘Rubbish, Roads and Reserves’ have long been the basic services provided by local governments for rate payers.  But not for much longer in South Perth it seems? South Perth residents are being told that their reserve, the South Perth Foreshore (Sir James Mitchell Park) will need to pay its own way?

“The South Perth Foreshore does not make best use of its attributes, and costs the City approximately $800,000 a year just to maintain the “status quo”. Current issues include; high water use, ageing reticulation infrastructure, water quality problems associated with man-made lakes, turf management, lack of shade and deteriorating river walls.  Doing nothing is not an option.” This is from In  Part1 – Feedback & Opportunities, pg 8 of the South Perth Foreshore 2013 and Beyond  document asking residents to have their say on  the future of the foreshore.

Residents are fearful that steps and propaganda by the City of South Perth are indicating that they have big developments in the pipeline which include the commercialisation and even sale of parts of the South Perth Foreshore?

Recent changes that were made to the City’s Public Open Space Strategy, released in December 2012, also indicate that moves towards commercialisation and privatisation are on the cards.  This document contains statements such as “There are opportunities for revenue rising from the existing open space asset base through the leasing and sale of land and the imposition of user pay fees and charges” (pg 13).   There are more on pages  30/31 and  244/245.

Most of the things they list as issues are just normal council responsibilities (lighting, irrigation, drainage, managing natural areas, etc.) that should be covered by rates?  Why do so many things need to be done all of a sudden? It is not uncommon for local councils to let areas become run down before announcing major development plans. Have things been let go so badly that parts will now need to be sold off to cover the cost of fixing them?

You can understand the City needs to update its plans every now and then.  Water for example has become a much bigger issue.  Local governments across the metro area are looking at ways to reduce water use in public open spaces.  Typically they are removing non-active/peripheral grassed areas and replacing them with water wise native gardens and pathways for example.  So you could see that a new landscaping plan may be called for.

They mention the possibility of sporting facilities? It must be noted that active playing fields, use a lot more water than peripheral grassed areas.  So that would increase the water usage.  Residents are concerned that  sporting facilities be fenced off?

It is interesting to look at the previous plan,  the Sir James Mitchell Park Management Plan , prepared back in April 2001.   It has this to say about commercial activity on the foreshore;

6.3 Commercial Activity Policy and Zoning Plan (pg 10 – 6.3.1 Policy Statement)

“It is recognised that the area known as Sir James Mitchell Park has been created primarily as a regional passive recreation area that contains significant environmental, conservation and public amenity areas. It is important that these values together with the integrity and amenity of the area are not compromised.

The City of South Perth recognises that limited commercial activity is necessary for thebenefit of users, however any such activity should be in harmony with the values of thePark.

To ensure that these values are not compromised the use of a Commercial Activity Policywill enable an approved commercial activity to be provided and maintained without adversely affecting the Park.”

We assume back then “limited commercial activity” meant boat hire, ice cream vans, a cafe maybe and events etc.?

Are big changes really needed to the South Perth Foreshore?  If so, says who?   The South Perth Foreshore is magnificent and highly valued as it is.  Many residents and visitors  just want it to remain green open space, conservation and heritage area.

What does “Doing nothing is not an option”, really mean?  Clearly some maintenance and landscaping is required, but does this have to be major redevelopment requiring privatisation and commercialisation?

Will residents soon be bombarded with developers spin – “Space Activation”, “Revitalisation”, “Vibrancy”, “exciting restaurants shops and cafe’s”.  Isn’t that what Elizabeth Quay is for, just across the river on the city side?

Is the current drive by planners and developers in Perth to AMP up our public green spaces really in our best interest or theirs? More and more studies show that simple green spaces are vital for physical and public health.  See this BBC article – Green spaces boosts wellbeing of urban dwellers – study. We need these places to escape from the hustle and bussle of our busy lives.  With our growing population surely we need more parks and open green spaces, not less?

 Tourists prefer natural experiences too, according to the Minister for Tourism.  

There are concerns that very few people are aware of this current window of opportunity to have their say on the future of the South Perth Foreshore (even though the City has taken the usual measures to advertise).  Also some of the survey questions being asked are very broad and non specific in nature and some fear people could unwittingly be giving the City permission to do whatever they like, including commercialising or selling off parts to fund developments?

There has also been confusion over the ownership of the various sections of the foreshore land and why such extensive planning is underway prior to Local Government reforms being determined?

For more information see;

Minutes from Ordinary Council Meeting 28th May 2013

Stage 3 (May to August 2013) – Council approval of draft South Perth Foreshore 2013 and Beyond to formally consult  (pg 40)  .

Stage 4 (October 2013 – June 2014 and beyond) – Future planning  (pg 40).

Pg 41     “A Feasibility Framework has been developed to explore opportunities for potential commercial activation. The aim of this process is to identify ways in which the SPF can become financially self-sustaining, ensuring adequate funds are available in the future for maintenance, required infrastructure upgrades, and community events.”

Draft Economic Development Strategy 2013-2016

This document is worth locating, it contains many references to plans around the economic development of the City’s land.

This entry was posted in Community Participation, heritage, High-rise, Density & Urban Sprawl, Landscape Architecture, Mail Out, Passive Recreation, Planning and Public Health, POS, Public Consultation, Public Open Spaces, Sustainability, Uncategorized, Urban Planning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to South Perth Foreshore – commercialisation fears

  1. marcia manolas says:

    Dear Leisha, Excellent write up. How can we let more people know, Councils are now on the road to selling Public Open Space for revenue raising. It is the Public Open Space that makes Perth City unique. It is the green belt around the city and suburbs have small and large open space reserves. People need to know, Public Open Space land held by Councils in Freehold, CAN BE SOLD, even if it a Park. South Perth Council, tried to tell the residents that Sir James Mitchell Park did not consist of very much freehold land. The area of Public Open Space making up Sir James Michell Park land is well over 60% held by the City of South Perth in Freehold. Council is not being upfront and has ear-marked all Public Open Space areas which are Freehold in South Perth, under the Public Open Space Strategy Part 2 adopted in December 2012, which gives them the Authority to sell off any Public Open Space Land held in South Perth which is held by them under the classification of Freehold. There are 23 reserves including significant reserve Sir James Mitchell Park, and 8 local reserves which they have reviewed in the Public Open Space Strategy Part 2 adopted by Council in December 2012. Interestly, I have searched the titles of the original owners of the Public Open Space in Sir James Mitchell Park. Many were resumed in April 1940 for Recreation Grounds and given by the Government of the Day, Sir James Mitchell as he wanted to have a green belt around the city, to the South Perth Road Board, which is now City of South Perth. I would like to know if the decendants of the families whose property was resumed for Recreation Ground, can claim the land back if Council is going to develop it and not keep it for the reason it was original resumed which was Recreation Ground. This is an interesting question. Does anyone know the answer? I don’t think any person wants land resumed by the Government, paid a nominal amount, and then find out the land is going to be used for some other purpose, – major development and sold to developers to make large profits.

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