25 January 2016
Department of Planning
Locked bag 2506
Perth WA 6001
Attention: Strategic Projects
Submission: Draft Swan Valley Development Plan 2015
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this document. It is vital that the new Development Plan as the working regulatory document attached to the new (2016) Swan Valley Management Act be as effective and accurate as it can be made. We agree with many aspects of the plan but also disagree with some of the plan. Some areas of the plan are deficient or fail to understand the practical aspects of the valley.
The Swan Valley Progress Association Inc. was incorporated with the following objectives within the Swan Valley Planning Act zones and adjacent areas:-
i. Represent views and concerns of ratepayers, residents and business at all levels;
ii. Work with likeminded associations, other groups or community bodies and contribute comment to government to the benefit of members;
iii. Uphold the objectives of the Swan Valley Planning Act 1995 (as amended) and represent changes to the Act as seen to be necessary;
iv. Be non-sectarian and apolitical.
The SVPA is in general agreement as to the direction of the Draft Swan Valley Development Plan (SVDP) but has many concerns that should be considered and appropriate amendments made. Our major concerns are:
1) The new legislation passes the responsibility to manage the new Act to the City of Swan. If this proposal is unfunded by the State Government then it must be opposed. The City of Swan ratepayers must not pay for the additional costs of planning management or the tourism infrastructure that is needed in the valley to satisfy visitor needs to a high standard. If the proposal includes a suitable annual funding package from the state government then this proposal is supported.
2) The plan has not recognised life style residents as the major land owner group. This group are displacing farmers at a steady rate and are a cause of decline in the valley attraction through the loss of vineyards. We see no solution to this situation however the new building, set back and fencing codes will help maintain rural ambience.
3) A major sub group of the life style residents is those with an equine interest. This group are poorly represented at all levels and do not have an organisation that can speak for them. The Australian equine industry is worth per annum 6.3 billion dollars and the value in the Swan Valley is unknown. The new plan does little to engage with this major group and assist them in becoming a Swan Valley attraction. The areas traditionally used by horse riders have been impacted by the new urban areas leaving only float away the only option to access exercise areas. There therefore needs to be a commitment by the City of Swan and Planning that the area of land utilised by the State Equestrian Centre will always be available for equestrian use and in particular, for groups such as the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA). The SEC is still a key equine precinct, housing various equestrian stakeholders and hosting thousands of competitors annually. The multi-user sports facility being planned for Whiteman Park by the City of Swan and Planning needs to include an equestrian area for both commercial and amateur use as training and exercise areas.
4) A new Act is urgently needed to replace the 1995 Act which has proved problematic.
5) The Herne Hill Town Centre is supported however the other urban areas of Caversham and West Swan should also be considered. A new expanded visitor centre is urgently needed to cater to visitor needs and should include interpretation, indigenous representation, museum items and bike hire in addition to its existing services. There is mixed views of where the tourist visitor centre should be located with Herne Hill and the southern area of the valley both being popular. This situation may well be decided by the body funding the new centre.
6) The intensive tourism development zones are supported but with a minimum lot size of four hectares there will be little development and smaller lot sizes must be considered. New entrants to tourism in the valley will need a free land title to achieve bank funding for developments. This zoning has the potential with smaller more affordable lots to add many more tourist attractions .
7) Retaining the whole 7,000ha area of the valley is not explained in the document. There are large areas of the valley that have no agriculture, poor soils, limited water and almost no visitation. The SVPA would like these areas assessed for the values. The City of Swan has resolved that the industrial land in the South east corner of the Swan Valley be excised from the Swan Valley Act area. This is not appropriate for one group to get preferential treatment and all participants in the valley must be given the opportunity to put their case for change through an assessment process. It is suggested that the Rural Living areas of the valley be excised but remain zoned Rural Living. These areas have no agriculture or tourism and should not be subjected to the rigorous rules that apply to the Swan Valley. Lots in the agricultural areas need to be a minimum lot size of 2 hectares.
8) The Plan has very little for the horticultural producers of the valley. This group are shrinking both in number and area and being replaced with life style residents. The SVPA consider we need to not only keep our existing producers but encourage new entrants. This could be assisted by the provision of more water for farmers and a reduction of the very high fixed costs in the valley of City of Swan Rates, Emergency Services and Land Tax. As tourism is the new direction for the valley and commercial farming is failing there is no longer a need for lots over two hectares and this is suggested as the minimum lot size in the valley core to maintain the rural ambience and at the same time make more lots available for tourist operators and “commercial” hobby farmers (pop-up farms).
9) The Swan Valley wine industry is vital to the tourist attraction of the valley. This vital industry is however small (0.15% of Australian production) with limited growth prospects in the valley. The wine tourism in the valley principally through cellar door activities is the main feature of the industry. The importance and value of the wine industry is somewhat overstated. The valley now needs to diversify its tourist product to grow.
10) The new Swan Valley Planning Act must be either binding on or at least agreed to by all government departments and utilities. A whole of government approach is required for the Swan Valley to achieve its full potential. This can be progressed through a cabinet Paper.
11) Aged care is an X use except in the Herne Hill Town site. We do not agree. The SVPA supports the establishment of an aged care facility in the Swan valley. Many aged care residents travel short distances by gofer, wheel chair or walker for recreation or for their daily needs. The facility must therefore have close proximity to services such as doctor, dentist, pharmacy, and retail food, clothing, footwear etc. Regular public transport is required for some visitors. Close proximity to public open space or lakes is highly desirable. Sealed paths leading away from the facility is also essential. We consider the western edge of the valley as offering the best potential. As this area has no tourism or agriculture no buffer zones would be required.
12) The Swan River is the major natural feature of the valley and needs improved visitor access. This is essential to maximise the visitor appeal of the valley. The river has its own attraction and beauty and needs paths, picnic areas, toilet blocks, interpretation and access to the river edge for at least canoes. Grogan’s swamp offers other opportunities for recreation and tourism and belongs to Whiteman Park and also needs to be considered.
13) Accommodation in the valley is predominately chalets. This type of accommodation is currently underused. Some present poorly and none offer full service and quality demanded by tourists (overseas). High quality five star accommodation is needed in the valley to attract overseas tourists to visit and spend here.
14) Branding the Swan Valley is long overdue and would be greatly aided if it became a suburb with a postcode that can be found on Google or any GPS.
15) The proposed new road crossing over the river is expensive and may never happen. We do however support this proposal and would prefer to see the funds spent on tourism infrastructure. More cycle and walk crossings of the river would be an advantage and Caversham to Midland is seen as the first priority. If a vehicle crossing of the river is seen as essential then a better location is at Douglas Road as there are high river banks and existing roads each side.
16) The second dwelling policy of limiting it to 100 square metres within 20 metres of an existing dwelling is not agreed. This is the current “granny flat” policy that covers all of Perth. For family farm succession a second dwelling is essential. There is also a need for accommodation of seasonal workers in the valley in on farm donga accommodation. The only other accommodation for seasonal workers is the two caravan parks with the cost of around $100 per night per room being prohibitive.
17) Commuter traffic is a constant problem both to residents and visitors and needs resolution through the rapid construction of alternative roads including a four lane Lord Street and slower speeds of 60kph on West Swan Road and Great Northern Highway as a means of deterring commuters and at the same time making the trip more pleasant for visitors.
18) The ban on commercial vehicle parking and sea container use is extreme and both are present in the valley and should be accommodated in a sensible way using appropriate regulation.