Gardens under development threat
THE ICONIC Arkarra Tea Gardens are staring into the abyss of commercial subdivision.
In a shock disclosure yesterday, deputy mayor Julie Arthur confirmed a development application had been lodged with the council on September 13.
“The application is to reconfigure the one tea garden lot into three lots.”
But the application will not be presented to our councillors.
Ms Arthur explained that it would be handled “under delegation”.
This means council officers will make the decision and then refer it to the CEO Andrew Brien for a final say.
“The Department of Environment and Resource Management will need to be contacted for advice and that runs out on November 24,” Ms Arthur said.
“This process of going under delegation is not new. We made the decision that some applications not subject to public notification – and Arkarra is one of them – can be handled by staff and the CEO.”
But local environmentalist John Eggleston is appalled at the news.
“It’s probably a fait accompli. And one of the saddest things that could happen. Making this reserve area out of bounds to the general public will drag down visitor numbers to the adjoining council lagoons even further.”
Councillor Sue Brooks is just as unhappy at the news.
“It will be a great loss to the community to lose public access to the tea gardens site.
“The business known as the Arkarra Tea Gardens operated successfully for many years as a casual family-focused cafe.
“The business failed when it changed hands and the afe, complete with playground and souvenir shop, was altered to become a restaurant-style business. It has now been closed for over two years and is in a sad state of disrepair.”
Ms Brooks said that while the Arkarra Lagoons and Wetlands were safe from development, the tea gardens provided access to toilets, car parking and seating as well as information and food and drink.
Ms Arthur said council was currently engaged in consulting with the community towards updating its town plan.
“There’s nothing sinister in the Arkarra process.
“It’s the way the current town plan is administered.”
‘There’s nothing sinister in the Arkarra process. It’s the way the current town plan is administered.’