Bollard Bullrush may fall victim to lazy planning

The Bollard Bullrush wetland, one of the last remaining wetland areas in metropolitan Perth faces suburban encirclement with another new residential local structure plan in the works for Kwinana.   The proposed Wellard residential development highlights the difficulties of making urban infill work in a city with unimaginative urban planning and public transit policies while conserving our precious urban bushland remnant.

The people of Kwinana are justifiably concerned that the current version of the Wellard Local Structure Plan (LSP) doesn’t make the grade in either sense.

The land covered by the LSP will enclose the Bollard Bullrush Wetland area on two sides.  As the LSP observes, the section of Bollard Bullrush abutting the proposed residential area constitutes low-lying paddock classified by DEC as completely degraded.  Nonetheless the open area provides significant habitat for local birdlife including ibis and other wading species.  Although none of the species listed as inhabiting Bollard Bullrush are regarded as having critical conservation value, there is extensive community concern that these species will be negatively impacted by the proximity of housing, increased human activity in the proposed open space, and increased traffic volume in the area.  The proposed buffer zone of 50 metres is likely to be inadequate to the task of protecting the wetlands core from residential impacts.  It is my impression that the width of the buffer zone prioritizes the residential density requirement for the LSP at the expense of conservation values.  
 
This is an issue both for local biodiversity – a species does have to be classified as endangered to be important to the local ecosystem – and public amenity, as evidenced by the extent of local concern communicated to my office.
 
The lack of any multi-storey units as part of the LSP is a wasted opportunity to respond innovatively to South Metropolitan’s burgeoning sprawl problem.  Planning for multi-storey structures in the LSP would allow for the density target to be met and the environmental buffer area to be expanded.  I would hope that the Town of Kwinana supports the desire of Kwinana residents who wish to see some or all of the Bollard Bullrush wetland incorporated into the Beeliar Regional Park.
 
Public transit planning for the LSP is disappointing.  The Public Transit Authority has designated a new Route 548 to service the proposed residential area, running between Kwinana and Wellard Stations.   The projected 20 minute period between buses at peak times is symptomatic of policy failures at the State level and is a common (and not the worst) waiting period for suburban bus commuters.   The projected 60 minute period between services at off peak times and weekends is a completely unacceptable standard of public transport accessibility for future residents.   Minors, the elderly, the disabled and other residents otherwise unable to use or access private transportation face severe disadvantage accessing services and infrastructure under the proposed scheduling for Route 458.  
 
There is further community concern regarding increased traffic congestion and potential safety issues on Wellard Road for children, seniors, and pedestrians generally should the development of Wellard proceed as no footpath along Wellard Road has been confirmed.  Pedestrian safety and amenity must be paramount should the development proceed.
 
The Wellard LSP is currently under consideration by the Town of Kwinana.  I have made a submission to the Town Council based on the community concerns listed above and hope that the LSP, should it proceed, be revised significantly to incorporate better planning for residents and real protection for Bollard Bullrush.

Read Lynn's submission to the LSP

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Lynn MacLaren Submission - Wellard.pdf 603.7 KB