Locals fend off Metronet grab

Mills Avenue Park’s use as a depot and HQ has been averted. Photo by City of Bayswater

A PLAN to fence off part of a Bayswater park for a Metronet contractor’s office has been fended off after public outcry. 

The state government’s Metronet team sent a letter dated April 14 to residents around Mills Avenue Park saying it was planning to fence off about 2000sqm as a construction HQ for Bayswater station contractor Evolve.

The HQ is currently occupying the rail corridor opposite Whatley Crescent, and the letter gave residents until April 22 to raise “any concerns or queries” about the relocation.

The letter said the playground and trees wouldn’t be impacted, but there’d be on-site meetings from 6.45am.

Bayswater councillor Giorgia Johnson embodied the frustration of a fair few locals over losing so much open space in an impassioned social media post about the proposal, and she sent a submission to Metronet to similar effect.

Cr Johnson said while an updated train station would be “nice to have … somehow it’s all gone wrong”.

“Bayswater is being hammered far beyond whatever benefit a replacement train station with nice toilets will bring,” Cr Johnson said.

“Every day and every week there’s more, and I can’t keep up with all of the road closures and changing pedestrian and cyclist access, the impact on our favourite small businesses in both Bayswater and Maylands, the noise, vibration, interruption, traffic chaos, the absolutely careless destruction of our roads, paths, benches, remaining trees and bike paths, the rubbish, the loss of parkland, the loss of our skatepark for a carpark, heartbreaking tree loss.”

The Metronet proposal would’ve stuck a project HQ (blue) and storage area (red) on the site.

Cr Johnson said the suburbs were being filled with “endless sand brought along by not just the train station build,” but 

the accompanying airport and Ellenbrook train lines, the locally-unpopular closing of Caledonian Avenue to pedestrians, and other related projects.

“The place I love is being trashed. I am so sick of our public places and trees being treated as disposable. I am sick of our community’s feedback being ignored.”

This time, though, the weight of public feedback tipped the scales: Due to the overwhelming negative response, Metronet held off and is now seeking a new site.

The whole Metronet upgrade has handed Bayswater council’s control of planning in the project’s area over to the state government. 

Bayswater council’s long-term economic development strategy, considered in draft form by councillors at the April 26 meeting, notes the Metronet upgrade “presents a range of future opportunities” with Bayswater set to become the second-busiest station after the Perth CBD stop. 

But until then the agenda acknowledged prolonged disruption for the next few years, with the latest inconvenience imposed from above being an impending 18-month closure of Railway Parade from Bassendean Road to Clavering Road from June 2022 to December 2023.

A staff report to councillors advised to just grin and bear it, noting any refusal may lead the state to invoke their greater planning powers from their bespoke Railway (Metronet) Act 2018 and “facilitate the closure with a less favourable outcome for the community and the city”.

by DAVID BELL

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