Minister Carey approves Port Beach MRS Amendment – Leighton Action Coalition responds

On 9 May 2024, the Western Australian Planning Commission advised it had considered all the submissions received in respect of the amendment proposal for the North Fremantle Urban Precinct Metropolitan Region Scheme Amendment 1400/41 relating to coastal land adjacent to Port Beach.

The proposal was first published in the Government Gazette on 28 March 2023, as we reported here.

The Amendment, as advertised, has just been presented to and approved by the Governor in accordance with the requirements of the Planning and Development Act 2005. Which simply means the Minister for Planning, John Carey approved of the Amendment on advice from the WAPC and then asked the Governor formally to sign it into law, which the Governor has now done.

Under the planning law, the Amendment will now be tabled in both Houses of Parliament, where it must remain for 12 sitting days. During this time, either House may, by resolution, disallow the Amendment. As soon as the Amendment is no longer subject to disallowance it becomes legally effective in the Metropolitan Region Scheme.

One can expect disallowance will not happen and the Amendment will soon become part of the MRS.

It is another question whether everyone with an interest in the Amendment is happy with it, as our Port Beach coverage over the past year and more shows. The developer would like to get on with developing the precinct, the Action Coalition wants a greater parks and recreation coastal reserve, and urbanists want everything more or less put on hold while the Future of Fremantle project completes its once-in-a-generation report to Government on how the precinct between
Leighton and the Port should be imagined – a project on which Fremantle Shipping News has reported extensively.

In broad terms it is fair to say the Minister’s decision, represented by the Amendment, was what many folk expected he would make – it puts most of the affected Port Beach precinct land into an ‘Urban deferred’ zone, subject to –
· finalisation or substantial progression of the Future of Fremantle project
· confirmation of regional road and transport requirements in the locality
· confirmation of coastal foreshore reserve requirements
· consideration of the Fremantle Port buffer.

The WAPC’s Report on Submissions, dated last December but only publicly released last week, pretty much foreshadowed the Minister’s decision.

The Leighton Action Coalition, a leading community action group, issued a statement yesterday in response to the Minister’s decision accepting the advice of the WA Planning Commission to apply ‘Urban Deferred’ zoning to much of the land behind Port Beach – south Leighton in North Fremantle as originally advertised – noting that a smaller, narrower area of land abutting Port Beach Road has been zoned Parks and Recreation. It compared what the Minister allowed by way of reservation with what the Leighton Action Coalition had submitted was required.

Paul Gamblin, spokesperson for Leighton Action Coalition, commented that –
“The Port Beach – south Leighton coast has had another stay of execution. While earning our respect for resisting developer pressure to zone much of the area to urban immediately, Minister for Planning, John Carey, did however back in the WA Planning Commission’s intention to eventually move the bulk of this coastal land to urban, by applying the ‘Urban Deferred’ option. A sliver of land between the industrial area and Port Beach Road has now been zoned Parks and Recreation which is welcome and a win for common sense but is only the bare minimum starting point for a meaningful coastal park.”

Mr Gamblin added: “So, it’s a mixed bag for tens of thousands of Port-Leighton beach lovers – we live to fight another day for a wide, natural beach and access for all, for generations to come. We have another chance to advocate for restored dunes and much-needed public open space over groynes and seawalls.”

Mr Gamblin observed that the rezoning, even to Urban deferred, is widely regarded as premature, but said that, “to their credit, the WAPC and the Minister also took on board sustained, credible advice from the City of Fremantle and the Leighton Action Coalition, among others, to defer the urban zoning until crucial analysis is done to determine additional coastal foreshore requirements.”

Mr Gamblin said the next step is vitally important and called on Minister Carey to confirm his commitment to a transparent process with full community participation to determine the future needs for this ever-popular area, reflecting its vast and growing catchment that stretches from the coast to the hills. He made the point – “We only get one shot.”

Mr Gamblin summed up the Leighton Action Coalition’s position in these terms –

“This decision also allows for the Future of Fremantle process to finish its important work, albeit its apparent predilection for groynes and heavy engineering, with a narrow foreshore, in its scenarios to date, has drawn deep concern from across the community. We expect the FoF process to strive to meet its potential to genuinely inspire the community, promote good planning, and not resort to BAU in the Port Beach section, when it delivers its final report shortly.”

As with all such significant development projects, the future lies ahead of us!

Fremantle Shipping News will do all it can to keep you abreast of next steps.

By Michael Barker, Editor, Fremantle Shipping News


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