THE eternal saga of the East Perth concrete batching plants drags on with Vincent council holding a special meeting July 12 to discuss its plan to see the back of them.
The two plants—owned by companies Holcim and Hanson—want to stick around, arguing they need to be able to deliver concrete direct to construction projects in the city (a claim disputed by locals who watched the Queens Riverside concrete pour be serviced by trucks that drove all the way from Cockburn Cement south of the river).
“It’s not in line with Directions 2031 and in my opinion is suppressing the potential development here, which could be a funky, urban New York feel,” says local Dean Fiore.
“I come past every morning and pass the train station, and there are people in suits, on bikes, and they’re right next to this big industrial machinery – it’s out of place,” Mr Fiore says.
David D (who didn’t want his last name used as he reckons plant managers have bullied him during his long campaign against their operations) says a Perth council meeting in 1996 acknowledged the plants would destroy the amenity, but were approved on the understanding it was a temporary fix.
Mr D, who’s lived in the area long enough to remember tramping up to school past the old East Perth Tavern and the kindy next door (“Think about that,” he pauses), says the plants were given a firm exit date when former planning minister John Day gave them a five-year license extension in 2012.
With that drawing near both plants have applied to operate indefinitely and Vincent council will make a decision on July 12. Council staff have recommended giving them a 12-month extension to pack their bags and to also give the minister time to approve the city’s new Local Planning Scheme (which will zone the plants out of that part of town).
It’s likely both plants will appeal to the SAT and ask for permanent tenure, in which case planning minister Rita Saffioti has a 14-day window to step in and make that decision herself, and Vincent council’s written to Ms Saffioti imploring her to give the plants the heave ho.
Mayor Emma Cole says under their new Local Planning Scheme they want to rejuvenate the area by rezoning it as residential and commercial, taking advantage of its location as a transport hub and turn it into a thriving neighbourhood. The plants prevent that, mainly because under the WA Planning Commission’s imposed buffer zone no one’s allowed to build residential developments around them anyway, but also because the plants make the area a little unappealing with the constant noise and dust kicked up by trucks.
“All the landowners, whether they’re residential or commercial, have said ‘we’ve had enough of the concrete batching plants’. They want to see the neighbourhood grow,” Ms Cole says.
The special council meeting’s on at July 12 at 6pm at Vincent council HQ and it’s open to the public.
by DAVID BELL and STEVE GRANT