Broome residents rallying against a rezoning of land earmarked for an “unviable” shop to help ease the town’s rental crisis have been lashed by a councillor for suggesting the change would lead to a rise in crime. Shire of Broome councillors last week voted 4-4 with deputy president Desiree Male casting the tie-breaking vote, which led to the motion being passed to rezone a dirt patch in Broome North from commercial to residential use with land for a Boulevard-style shopping centre. The change means the site will be divided into 34 residential lots, three of which will be set aside for social housing. Space for a childcare centre will also be set aside. More than 200 residents rallied against the move, with a joint submission containing 213 signatures and a petition with 122 signatures presented to council at last week’s council meeting. Residents were concerned about the move’s impact on capacity at the local primary school, a shortage of infrastructure for older children, traffic congestion and the potential for a rise in crime should social housing be built in the area. Shire of Broome councillor Nik Wevers pushed back against those concerns, taking particular aim at suggestions there would be “all these poor people running around” as “nonsense”. The initial DevelopmentWA plan for the site which included a doctors surgery, cafe and supermarket also contributed to community distaste towards the decision. In place of the local centre, the possibility of a larger district centre in a different area, approximately the same size as the Boulevard shopping centre, was mentioned. However, petition organiser Kylie Brockenshire said residents were not notified about this change. “The letter was handed to the local primary school to distribute to residents — that is not their job,” she said. Mrs Brockenshire said residents did not want a larger shopping centre in the suburb, instead calling for the local centre to remain a part of future planning. “Just picture this: you’re looking to buy a house in Broome, you choose a plot based on where the shops and facilities are, then ten10 years down the road you get told it’s never going to happen,” she said. DevelopmentWA northern and Goldfields manager Paul Ferrante said it was upsetting to hear residents felt they were not consulted, but stressed previous plans were not viable. “We’ve approached multiple potential anchor tenants; all of them had no interest in a community centre,” he said. “If you look at what happened in Roebuck Estate, where a community centre was built but folded and became a church within a few years, you can see it’s just not smart with the current retail market.” “The previous plan was for 74 dwellings and the community centre; this new plan is for just 34 dwellings, less than half the original plan,” he said. “It would not cause traffic issues or enrolment issues at the primary school.” Speaking during the ordinary council meeting, Cr Wevers said the rezoning was necessary due to the dire shortage of housing and childcare centres. “The argument that we’re going to have all these poor people running around is just nonsense — only three of the 34 residential lots will be for social housing,” she said. “We need to acknowledge the Roebuck Estate experience — everything was tried there, it didn’t work.” “I’m sorry Broome North won’t have their special little store, but it’s just not viable.” The Department of Education said the proposal would have no significant impact on student demand at nearby Broome North Primary School.