Council floats shelter squeeze

HOMELESS services will have a harder time moving into Perth council’s demesne if a new motion by councillor Brent Fleeton is approved by colleagues. 

He’s drawn up a motion to amend the city’s planning scheme to put them on safer ground if they reject applications like the recent instance of Ruah wanting to move a homeless drop-in service into James Street.

Councillors rejected that proposal last month due to community concerns about safety and amenity,  but Ruah’s now appealed. 

Council planners reckon Ruah has a good case for appeal: All they needed was for Perth council to change the zoning to ‘community centre’, which their own planning scheme says is a ‘preferred use’ and that usually makes for an automatic approval. 

Contemplated

One way for Cr Fleeton’s motion to take effect would be to change community centres to a ‘contemplated use’, which writes into the scheme with more certainty that council has final say over these decisions and doesn’t leave them so wide open to appeal.

Cr Fleeton’s motion says the change would “avoid future uncertainty/confusion” when dealing with applications like Ruah’s, to let council make decisions on whether homeless services are suitable for an area “taking into account the existing context, amenity and views of the local community”.

Councillors vote on the idea at the upcoming June 28 meeting, and Cr Fleeton is likely to have colleagues’ support: Several members of the current council along with lord mayor Basil Zempilas have argued that inner Perth has enough homeless centres and any more should be distributed through other suburbs.

If approved it’d take about 18 months to properly bring into effect, and would still need sign-off by the state government. 

by DAVID BELL

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