Forum votes to keep Riverside Drive in Waterfront project

Riverside Drive should be kept for vehicles bypassing the city, cyclists and pedestrians, City Vision head Ken Adam told a forum on the proposed Perth Waterfront development.

City Vision had put forward plans to develop the waterfront since 1990 and welcomed the concept but the State Government’s plan was flawed and needed changes, Mr Adam said.

These were to keep Riverside Drive for traffic bypassing the city, cyclists and pedestrians, lower the height of proposed buildings at the waterfront to stop the area being in shadow in winter and to take into account heritage sites and values of the area.

Closing Riverside Drive would shift 10,000 vehicles a day into the Graham Farmer Freeway tunnel, which could cope in the short term but not the medium or long term.

Riverside Drive and the tunnel were the only routes for vehicles bypassing the city.  Riverside Drive carried 26,000 vehicles a day and it was proposed that Riverside Drive would carry 16,000 motor vehicles a day and redirect them on to the roads that ran around the proposed inlet – William Street, Barrack Street and the proposed road immediately behind the inlet.

Riverside Drive could be kept using a low bridge that would still allow for boats to enter the inlet.

Mr Adam said the proposal – Metropolitan Region Scheme Amendment 1203/41 – also  ran counter to the Government’s 2031 Future Directions plan to spend money developing regional centres to take the population pressure off Perth.

City Vision was a think-tank and urban advocacy group focusing on the development of Perth as a capital city, Mr Adam said.

National Trust councillor Max Hipkin said the area had been a place of recreation since the start of European settlement and the Government’s proposal would have very severe heritage impacts.

The Moreton Bay fig trees were at risk of a slow death from salt water incursion from the river in an inlet.

Barrack Square dating from 1907 was at risk of being dominated by high-rise buildings in the proposed plan.

The Esplanade Kiosk had a high heritage value.

The memorial to architect and World War I soldier Talbot Hobbs was built in 1940 and paid for by public subscription.

The whole project should be moved to the west of the proposed site.

In the discussion period, Bicycle Transport Alliance secretary Robert Hunt said the plan did not make any provision for commuter cyclists heading into the city centre who would have to ride on streets with an estimated 16,000 more vehicles a day diverted around the inlet from Riverside Drive.  The proposed 37-storey international standard hotel would create an enormous amount of extra traffic.

One speaker said the whole plan was an abomination because it would destroy an area unique to Perth that was the envy of other cities around the world.

Other speakers said the prevailing wind off the river would stop the proposed waterfront dining areas, they would have to be sheltered from the wind.

The forum passed three resolutions for changes to the Government’s proposal.

The first, that Riverside Drive should be retained as a continuous through road, was passed 26-8.

The second was that the height and scale of buildings should not be more than three stories at the waterfront graduating up to St Georges Terrace to take into account the need for winter sunshine.  It passed 26-4.

The third, to retain all the heritage places, was passed 21-4.

Mr Adam said submission for public comment closed at 5pm on May 27.  He urged groups and members of the public to make submissions to get the plan changed.

The proposal is on the WA Planning Commission website at: http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/Plans+and+policies/Metropolitan+planning/Perth+Waterfront/Default.aspx

The commission said submissions must be received by 5pm on Friday 27 May 2011 and should be sent to:

Secretary
Western Australian Planning Commission
469 Wellington Street
Perth WA 6000

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