Cafe fans fume over 24-hour servo

NORTH PERTH residents packed Vincent council’s public gallery this week to oppose a 24-hour petrol station planned for the Angove Street cafe strip.

Their main concern was that petrol fumes would endanger health and kill the strip’s alfresco culture.

The block on the corner of Angove and Woodville Street was a mechanic’s garage for five decades, and when it closed a couple of years ago locals hoped any replacement at the landmark site would complement the mix of small retail, cafes and houses.

But the block was bought in late 2021 by South Australia-based petrol company On the Run, owned by Peregrine Corporation.

It has 160 petrol stations around the country and wants to add the Angove site, with designs showing signs boasting “we never close”.

Resident Nicole Wolf lives behind the proposed station amd says when she bought her house she’d found “the perfect place to raise a family. It’s close to cafes, day care, and the school.

“Now we have twin babies at home and we spend every day with them living our North Perth dream, whether that’s enjoying alfresco breakfast or getting fresh air on the strip.

“The petrol station proposal seeks to destroy our North Perth family dream.

“How could we continue to live in our house or send our children to daycare knowing that we’re exposing them to fumes that increase the chance of leukaemia?

“What will happen to the businesses that we love when their customers are driven away? I sure wouldn’t want to sit there sipping coffee looking at an eight-bowser petrol station and smelling petrol fumes.”

A group of six health researchers and medical practitioners, including two locals affected by the proposal, have formed a working party to analyse the research evidence on the health risks associated with living near petrol stations. 

Their 17-page report says “benzene, which is a constituent of petroleum, is recognised as an established carcinogen in adults.

“In children, residential proximity of under 50 metres to petrol stations has been found to be associated with a 77 per cent increased risk of all cancers, and a two-fold increase in the risk of leukaemia”.

An apartment block is adjacent, homes are as close as 10 metres, and five cafes have alfresco setups within 50 metres. 

OTR’s application states “no loss of any community service or benefit is expected to occur as a result of the proposed development”.

That’s disputed by Don Barba, co-convener of the “Stop the Station” Group recently formed to oppose the plan. He’s a retired school principal and has concerns for students at nearby North Perth Primary, one corner of which is within that 50 metre radius.

His group has spoken to many local business owners and their submission says “the common theme from the shop keepers and patrons is that this development would ‘kill the strip’ because of the increased traffic and benzene vapours. Discussions with patrons and visitors of the cafe strip reinforce similar concerns about traffic volume and hazards, negative ambience and health issues related to the proximity of benzene vapours.”

Vincent council planners will now draw up a recommendation for either approval or refusal and hand it over to the state government’s Development Assessment Panel who’ll make the final decision.

One planning regulation that can be taken into consideration is “the suitability of the land for the development taking into account the possible risk to human health or safety”.

OTR’s application addresses this item stating: “This matter is not relevant to this proposal.”

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