VINCENT council has introduced tough new rules requiring 25 per cent of big developments be set aside for greenery.
Previously developers only needed to leave 10 per cent for gardens, lawn or trees in mixed use developments or blocks of flats, but the council is concerned about the city’s rapidly diminishing tree canopy. It’s busily trying to plant up its verges and parks, but is unable to keep pace with the chainsaws in suburban blocks.
Planning director Gabby Poezyn says the new rule is “in all probability” Perth’s toughest.
Mayor John Carey says less greenery equals higher local temperatures for people living in the developments, and it can also lead to health and psychological effects.
Council staff warned against the 25 per cent green space requirement, arguing 20 per cent was more reasonable.
The larger requirement could make “commercial development… prohibitive in some instances, although it is recognised that some of this landscaping can be provided on the roof top or on upper levels”, they argued in a report to councillors.
In presenting the motion to council Mr Carey showed what wouldn’t count as soft landscaping; a dead green wall from a local block of flats.
They’re meant to look like lush walls of plants but in Perth often fail because of the tough climate or poor management.
Even Perth city council couldn’t keep one alive at Northbridge Piazza, despite constantly dumping cash into its care.
Mr Carey says the policy is a stop-gap measure while Vincent completely overhauls its planning rules.
There’s a lot of discretion built into them, and in the hands of development assessment panels the results are often taller, bulkier, and with less setbacks than neighbours would like.
“This has been a massive project and I think there’s been a bit of frustration by councillors and myself,” Mr Carey says. “We want these reforms in place. What we’re doing is ensuring a stronger framework so if the DAP continues, at least we know the minimum benchmarks are better in the interests of Vincent amenity [re] height, bulk, setbacks, soft green landscaping, all those sorts of issues.”
by DAVID BELL