A document outlining future ideas for Whiteman Park in the Swan Valley ties in with the park’s focus on tourism and development but has generated some concern for land conservation.
The three-year draft strategic plan was released recently by the Department of Planning and is available for public comment.
Whiteman Park manager Steve Lowe says the biggest focus for the future of the park is tourism.
“Our growth has been amazing,” he says.
“In 2008 our visitation rate was around 650,000 people a year.
“In 2011 that hit 1 million people a year and we’ve maintained that number of tourists on average each year since.
“When tourists come to Perth and do not have the ability to travel vast distances throughout the state they can come to the Swan Valley and visit a variety of attractions from world class food and wine to Australian outback and native animal experiences in Whiteman Park.”
Mr Lowe says the future focus for the park is on growth and provision of public amenities.
“For the park, operationally, we will continue looking at our public facilities; toilets, car parks, roads, all the things that support the fantastic attractions that we already have here,” he says.
However, Ballajura woman Kristy McGlew says she hopes the park will be left the way it is.
“Work on the conservation of all the bush land, we are ripping up so much for housing these days,” she says.
“Whiteman Park is bringing families together to have BBQs, picnics, play cricket, football, go for a walk and bike riding.
“Yes they have the pool now and the playground which is great, but I think that is all that it needs, it is a place to relax and enjoy scenery.”
Planning Minister Donna Faragher says the plan will ensure the park’s sustainability, with the vision of making the reserve “an internationally and locally-recognised place to meet”.
“It supports opportunities to provide further interconnected places for communities to meet, recreate in and enjoy, identifying potential land uses such as the development of sporting fields, land for outdoor events and concerts, and areas designated for youth attractions,” she says.
“The plan specifically states the land will not be utilised for residential purposes.”
Mr Lowe says the draft plan focuses on land issues around the park and higher density housing nearby will be an issue the park will deal with.
“We know that there’s a lot of things that are going to happen around the park, we know there is masses of development, residential development in the area, we know that’s going to bring issues that we need to deal with,” he says.
“The strategic plan itself then focuses on the land usage issues around the park.
“It talks about the conservation area, the woodland, the village area and some other areas that won’t be open to development and they are not going to be.
“They are there to be maintained as they are.”
Mr Lowe says the plan is honest, open and will gain a lot of support.
“I believe the document put forward for public comment is an honest attempt by the state to plan for the anticipated future growth in the Swan Valley, particularly within the tourism sector, so that Whiteman Park has a secure and viable future … whilst maintaining the park as a people’s park,” he says.
Mr Lowe said he thinks there will be a lot of public support for the draft, in particular local community members.
“The Swan Valley community is passionate about the park,” he says.
“There will definitely be some support and there will definitely be some opposition to certain ideas, that’s the beauty of it being a public document.”
Brabham man Clayton Baker supports the plan and growth for the park.
“It will be good to see some work done on the park and some exciting stuff being suggested,” he says.
“It will bring a lot more people, and especially with the suburbs growing around Whiteman Park it will make sure the park is around for a lot longer.”
Public comment on the draft plan closes on October 4.