Gaps in the law

LAX rules allowing houses to be demolished before councils find out what will replace them are leaving gap-toothed streets and undermining Vincent’s heritage streetscapes, says mayor John Carey.

Until last year developers needed plans on the table before councils would approve a demolition. The law aimed to prevent blocks lying vacant, attracting rubbish, vandalism, and generally bringing the tone of the street down.

Mr Carey says removing that protection could leave more streets with ugly gaps, despite the council introducing hard-fought character protection areas which were designed to give residents the change to preserve streetscapes they way they are.

“[It’s] weakened our character protection areas, because you can just demolish without submitting plans, whereas if we had the old regime you’d have to submit plans and those plans would have to be in alignment with the character retention area,” Mr Carey said.

• Mayor John Carey and Harley Street’s Roz Hughes, Janine Wells and Toni Gibbs lament the new gap in their old-style streetscape. They fear it’s a long-term neighbour now. Photo by Steve Grant

• Mayor John Carey and Harley Street’s Roz Hughes, Janine Wells and Toni Gibbs lament the new gap in their old-style streetscape. They fear it’s a long-term neighbour now. Photo by
Steve Grant

Critical issue

He says the council would be stuck between a rock and a hard place; if it rejected a development application it could result in an ugly empty block for years.

“This is a critical issue and we want it to be changed,” Mr Carey says. “We’ll be going to the WA planning commission and the minister seeking a change.”

It’s already come to a head on Harley Street. Locals were in the planning stages of applying a streetscape protection area, but the owners of number 14 have demolished, making for a gap-tooth smile in the street.

They went to the council with a new plan for a two-storey house that was roundly condemned by neighbours.

Resident and former ABC broadcaster Verity James told Vincent councillors lovely Harley Street was getting the “architecture of crapola” creeping in.

The mayor, a fellow ex-journo, told her “Verity I’m going to have to call to order on that”.

The council rejected the designs “due to the adverse impact they would have on the streetscape and surrounding properties”.

The owner’s appealing to the state administrative tribunal, but as that lengthy process drags out everyone’s stuck with an empty block.

by DAVID BELL

947 Hair Project 10x3

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