Estate ecstasy

RESIDENTS of Townsvale Estate in Balaklava are ecstatic after Wakefield Regional Council (WRC) agreed to accept ownership of the roads and infrastructure within the estate at its council meeting on July 22.

This will result in the completion of roads and stormwater infrastructure in the residential development.

Responsibility and management of the roads has been a long standing issue, causing angst for residents as the debate continued between WRC and landowner, the Gates family.

“This is a landmark agreement for this council that underlines its support for the residents of Townsvale Estate,” WRC CEO, Andrew MacDonald said.

“It will formally close a really difficult chapter but provide some clarity and direction for that particular pocket of our community.”

It brings to a conclusion almost 90 years of debate about who was responsible for maintaining the development in Balaklava’s east, built on privately owned land and roads.

The road upgrades will be completed at council’s discretion but Dale Street will be constructed with, at minimum, a compacted rubble surface within 12 months of the agreement, which is yet to be officially finalised.

The formed area of Hill Street will also be extended to provide a connection to the nature reserve within 12 months of that reserve being opened for public use.

Five vacant blocks of low-lying land within the development (at the original proposed continuation of Sandgate Road to Railway Terrace) were transferred to council ownership at no cost, which will be used for stormwater and flood mitigation and provide a public nature reserve.

WRC mayor, Rodney Reid, said the agreement was a good result for all parties.

“It has weighted this council down for 20 plus years, looking for a solution,” he said.

“It has been an issue since before I joined council 14 years ago.

“The outcome will be good for the residents and give clarity for future planning by council in relation to that area.

“We’re going to end up with a nice green space too, which I think is a real bonus.”

Estate resident, Betty Stevens, is also very pleased to see an end to the debacle.

“Years ago I lived at Halbury and it took 22 years to start bitumising the Auburn/Halbury road, with work starting just days before I moved – so I didn’t think there would be a resolution to the Townsvale roads issue in my lifetime,” Betty said.

“We couldn’t do much before as it was an issue between council and Gates’, but it’s going to happen now which is the main thing.”

Another estate resident Mandy Shepherd, said the history of the roads in question is long and complicated.

“We are grateful for a resolution that means roads can now be maintained to a safe standard by council for the benefit of the whole community who use them,” Mandy said.

“We would like to thank the Gates family and council for staying at the table until an agreement could be brokered.

“Our rates for too long have gone into every other area so it’s great some of the funds can finally go into supporting this area.

“It takes a lot of people to work together and co-operate to achieve change – so thank you to all of the councillors for voting to see an end to this longstanding problem – it’s much appreciated.”