A FIRE station nestled amidst houses at 27-33 Carr Street has been approved by the WA planning commission.
Neighbours who’ve been fighting the proposal labelled the decision ”arrogant”, but the fire and emergency services department says its vital and in the only appropriate location.
Of the 56 submissions, 45 were opposed, with residents siting traffic, noise and safety concerns.
A report from Vincent council staff backed resident, recommending the WAPC reject the plan.
The area is “already heavily congested” and “it is likely that the fire station will be unable to meet its service ability requirements during peak transport times”, the council report found.
The WAPC’s report dismissed the concerns one by one. Where residents were worried about toxic substances for on-site training, the report says: “The training foam used on-site is of a low toxicity and has minimal environmental impact. The compound within training foams are commensurate with the active ingredients found in laundry detergents and window cleaners”.
Mayor John Carey attended the WAPC hearing to speak against the station or to get a deferral, and was damning of the DFES.
“DFES didn’t take the community seriously,” he says. “I received an initial briefing from them, I said please engage the community up front and early before you make a planning submission. They didn’t … the gross arrogance of this department astounded me. They’ll be able to write a book, ‘101 on how not to do community consultation’.
“They do not care. I think it’s shameful and they need a kick up the pants. The minister should have stepped in and deferred this.”
He says if a private developer came to council trying to get something approved based on a 10-year-old traffic plan they’d get told to come back with something more recent.
DFES assistant commissioner Darren Klemm says the department used the best available information and Main Roads traffic data suggests “growth has been minimal over the past 10 years”.
Despite that, he acknowledges the area’s population has boomed.
”DFES is aware of the increased population density in the area and this was one of the key reasons the new station was proposed… as the inner city grows, we know it is going to take longer to get from one side of the city to the other. Having a station in West Perth means these residents won’t be left exposed if an emergency happens near them.”
Mr Carey says “from even anecdotal evidence, it is farcical to suggest there has not been an increase in traffic in that area”.
Nearby neighbour Sara Zvaunis says the noise audit relied on by the WAPC ignored on-site training, which would be one of the noisiest aspects.
Even taking that out of the equation the onsite activity will exceed allowable noise levels by a notch with idling engines and mechanical doors. Several bedrooms from neighbouring apartments will be flush with the station that’ll be built up to the boundary line.
The department maintains the report covers training, but Mr Carey, his planning team and residents all disagree. The Voice has asked for a copy of the report.
Ms Zvuanis says they got a verbal agreement the department would consider a buffer, but she’s suspicious unless it’s put in writing.
“It’s all lip service … none of it’s hardwired to produce any results.”
by DAVID BELL