Locals happy with height for trees

The proposed – and dumped – suburb of Meltham boundaries.

A PLAN to form a new suburb dubbed “Meltham” around the Meltham train station will not go ahead, but building heights will be boosted in the near future.

The renaming debate proved more lively than the planning changes introduced by Bayswater council, which will see five-storey buildings near the station, and three storeys about 700m away. 

The inner “core” was already granted a six-storey limit by the state government, leaving the council to decide what to do with the 200m to 700m doughnut around that.

A few draft ideas for planning rules were put together by the Meltham Surrounds Community Panel, 26 “random and representative stakeholders” who met last year, then their ideas were sent out to 2,200 households. 

Gradual

A majority of residents who weighed in liked the idea of having a gradual step-down in building heights.

The new rules encourage tall-but-slim developments. Residents didn’t want to see blocks subdivided into one-storey battle axes, instead happier with building upwards if it meant more trees. Those changes, ratified by council in April, are now with the state government for final rubber stamping.

Mayor Dan Bull said people consulted “were willing to accept a building could be one storey higher if it meant its footprint could be reduced, resulting in larger spaces between buildings and the ability to plant and retain trees.

“They wanted breathing space between buildings… what they didn’t want was blanket density, they didn’t want cookie cutter development.”

… but don’t give us Meltham, please

THE symbolic plan to rename the suburb brought more people out of the woodwork than the concrete changes. 

Bits of Bayswater, Bedford and a slice of Maylands would have been dubbed “Meltham”, centred around the train station, following a suggestion from the Meltham Surrounds Community Panel. 

A Bayswater council letter to nearly 4,000 locals about the name change got a response rate of 13 per cent, while 2,200 letters about building heights only rustled up 4.5 per cent.   

54 per cent were against the renaming, with reasons including:

Fear it could “decrease property values”;

“The name Meltham has no historical links to Western Australia, native flora and fauna or indigenous people – only possible links to West Yorkshire”;

“The name Meltham means a hamlet where they slaughter pigs”;

“Meltham is synonymous with low-socioeconomic values and anti-social behaviour”;

It “seems to only perpetuate a type of neighbourhood snobbery”; and,

Those in the Maylands sliver didn’t want to give up their suburb’s good name: 

“Maylands is developing as a trendy area with entertainment, shopping, cafes, restaurants that people want to be associated with, Meltham has none of these things”. Oof.

Bayswater councillors decided at the May 26 meeting to follow the majority.

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