Mt Hawthorn locals fight State housing plan

Phoebe Wearne
Richard Morup, campaign coordinator for Local Voice of Mt Hawthorn. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

A Liberal MP who fought a 10-unit Department of Housing development on a quiet street in Mt Hawthorn says she is extremely disappointed the local community is not getting the result it deserves.

The State Government is pushing ahead with the controversial two-storey block on East Street despite opposition from local residents and the City of Vincent.

Neighbours of the three-block site are making a final attempt to stop the affordable housing development after workmen arrived last week.

The plans include two public homes and eight units to be sold under shared equity and affordable housing programs.

People are angry the department was able to approve its own development using power the WA Planning Commission delegated to it. It can do this if a development is no more than 10 dwellings and meets the definition of "public works".

Residents say the department "steamrolled" the development through to use a "loophole", which may close when the WAPC considers an amendment to Vincent's town planning scheme to ban multiple dwellings on land zoned R30 or below in Mt Hawthorn.

Perth MP Eleni Evangel said she supported density but it needed to be done well and the East Street development was inappropriate for that area.

She believed she had presented many good reasons for the plan not to go ahead.

"It's very frustrating," Ms Evangel said. "It's been a really heart-wrenching process."

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More than 300 local residents signed a petition opposing the development and Richard Morup, who heads the Local Voices of Mt Hawthorn group, complained to the WA Ombudsman of "misleading behaviour" and "improper administration" in the department's pursuit of planning approval.

"We are not opposed to infill, social or affordable housing on the site, but we do not accept that the genuine need for public housing provides a justification for the department to blight one of the most intact character streets in Mt Hawthorn," Mr Morup said.

Vincent mayor John Carey questioned whether the development met the definition of public works because most of the units would be sold.

Department of Housing acting director-general Paul Whyte said the development was appropriate and well- designed, allowing people to get quality affordable homes in Mt Hawthorn, which would otherwise be unattainable.

He said the department revised its proposal after engagement with residents, the council and Ms Evangel and met several criteria. It applied for approval before the scheme amendment was advertised for comment, and the development would continue.