Community concerns about plans to subdivide a Perth block have forced the Northern Midlands Council to discuss alternative options for the block’s future.
In February the council approved plans to subdivide 32 Norfolk Street into three lots. By reducing the mid-1800s cottage’s backyard to create a second residential block and using the third lot as public open space for its $6.3 million Sheepwash Creek plan.
The alternative options proposed by the community are varied, but centre around a two-lot subdivision to save the convict-era well, making it part of the public open space, and maintaining the cottage’s original backyard.
Despite the subdivision project already approved and underway, a council spokesperson said the two-lot subdivision proposal would be discussed.
“Given community concerns, this proposal is set to be discussed at a future council workshop,” they said.
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It adds to concerns already raised about the council’s Sheepwash Creek plan. After the council purchased the adjacent lot, 10 Norfolk St, for $640,909 in March 2019, despite it being valued at $165,000 at the time of sale.
The council purchased number 32 first, in November 2018, for $261,500 as part of the creek’s plan, but the well was only discovered by workers under flooring of a shed in March 2019.
A later assessment found the well was constructed using about 500 convict era bricks, but was unable to ascertain how deep it reached below water level.
A council spokesperson said the well was not recorded on any official documents or title plans and despite extensive research its origins remained unknown.
“Whilst unable to establish its exact origin, it was determined that the well should not be filled or disturbed,” they said.
“[The] council made the decision that the well should be retained for interest sake and historical value, but it required capping to ensure it poses no danger to the community.
“With property highly sought after in this area, given the well is not located within the building envelope of allotment two, council does not believe this would have any adverse effect on potential buyers.”
Norfolk Street resident Kerry Donoghue wants to preserve the well for the public, but go a step further in making the cottage a museum with a community garden, to tie in with the town’s bicentenary.
“It’s great they’re looking into the proposals, as long as the well doesn’t disappear under someone’s shed.
“It’s fair enough some are already buried under things but this one isn’t yet buried, so why wouldn’t we save it,” she said.
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