PRESSURE is mounting on the WA Planning Commission to rethink widening Guildford Road between East Parade and Tonkin Highway.
The plan aims to “encourage a shift away from use of private vehicles” by adding bus lanes, cycle lanes, and wider footpaths, but many Maylands home and small-business owners are uniting behind a campaign to scrap the plan, claiming it’ll “destroy the fabric of the community.”
The face of lobby group Guildford Road to Ruin is resident Graeme Reany, who says local businesses including a bike shop, buddhist temple, vet clinic and cafe, are all opposed to the plan.
GRR has organised a petition, and is collecting residents’ stories on a Facebook page. Mr Reany says the signatures a pouring in.
“What’s the logic of destroying a bike shop to put in a bike lane?” he ponders.
Mr Reany says 59 businesses and more than 300 properties are facing the chop, and while they’ve been guaranteed compensation for lost land, he says there’s a lot of doubt whether it’ll be fair.
Leo Flavel from Studio281 art gallery says uncertainty about when the plan will go ahead is also creating stress.
“I’m not going to spend thousands of dollars maintaining the verge if it’s just going to be demolished. Do I repaint the floorboards, do I get the white ants out … it means property owners will let them fall into disrepair,” Mr Flavel says.
Mr Flavel stands to lose 6.3 metres plus a truncation from the front of his property, but reckons even a few metres will force him to demolish the whole building.
“This partial demolition statement is totally unrealistic. It’s like if I said I’m going to take a quarter of your car. With no engine there’s no car, the building’s going to be rendered completely useless,” Mr Flavel said.
“With uncertainty it’s very difficult to operate our business. Even if they don’t set a date, we’re booking exhibitions with international artists from 2018…I need to know whether this is happening or not.”
Next door, Marianne and Andy Bondarenko of The Chop Shop barbers are already looking at moving.
“They told us we stand to lose ‘just 4.5 metres’ of our shop, basically taking so much that it will have to be bulldozed,” Ms Bondarenko said.
Veterinarian Steve Baker says relocating his clinic is harder than most because of the special requirements needed for animals, but with 12 metres of his block to go he may have no alternative.
“Nobody wants to buy a business that isn’t really here … it creates uncertainty and that’s extremely disheartening as a business owner,” Mr Baker said.
Labor has committed to abandoning the widening if elected in March, with Maylands MLA Lisa Baker saying they’d stop at simple upgrades.
Planning minister Donne Faragher says that’s a knee-jerk commitment to a project that’s only in consultation phase, but Mt Lawley Liberal MP Michael Sutherland says the upgrade could be more sensible.
“I think everyone realises Guildford road needs to be upgraded because it’s in very poor shape…but I don’t think this plan is necessary, the scale and disruption it’ll cause, so I’m suggesting everyone puts a submission in,” Mr Sutherland said.
Submissions to the WAPC close March 17.
Instructions for joining the campaign can be found at http://www.guildfordroadtoruin.org/.
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM