‘Last resort’: Perth council rejects crime-ridden Aldi’s request to install security shutters

A crime-plagued Aldi in Perth has been denied permission to install security shutters as a “last resort” measure to protect the store from a high number of break-ins and vandalism, after an expert argued it would “create a hostile space”.

Following a spate of incidents at the Aldi in Byford, a suburb in Perth’s southeast, the German discount supermarket lodged a development application for security shutters that would help obscure and protect the glazed shopfront while it is closed from 10pm to 6am.

But the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale rejected the plans in July last year, arguing that the shutters would compromise the “character of the locality” and increase the expectation of crime in the area.

“A 24-metre long stretch of blank shutters on a shop front tends to send a message, particularly to pedestrians in the evening and night-time, of an unsafe environment,” planning expert Heather O’Brien, giving evidence for the council, told the State Administrative Tribunal of WA.

“The addition of blank shutters over the windows of Aldi during its closing hours would not be compatible or consistent with the existing locality or the design of the existing building. In my view the blank shutters would create a hostile space, detracting from the existing character of the locality.”

Aldi had appealed the decision in the tribunal, which on Tuesday ruled in favour of the council.

“The applicant’s main argument is the shutters are required as a ‘last resort’ to address incidents of vandalism and theft experienced at the Aldi shop,” the tribunal said in its ruling. “However, on the evidence before me … the proposed development is not in any way a last resort in the sense provided for in [local planning policy].”

Aldi told the tribunal that it had experienced eight incidents of vandalism, break-in or attempted break-in between April 2022 and June 2023, resulting in damage to the glazed shopfront and theft of goods.

Nathan Stewart, an expert planning witness called by Aldi, said that while the proposed added security measure would not be ideal, “I do not think the impact of the closed shutters is significant and a high quality urban design outcome is still achieved”.

Mr Stewart also suggested that closed shutters were a preferable amenity outcome to broken windows being visible in the town centre.

But the tribunal rejected this argument. “I do not accept the proposition one or two damaged glazing panels (which I accept has occurred eight times) has a greater negative amenity impact than covering the entire glazed shopfront each night,” the tribunal said.

“This is because repairs are made quickly and, on the evidence before me, damage is limited to very few of the panels of the glazed shopfront.”

While Aldi had argued the shutters were needed as it had already tried many other methods to prevent crime, including CCTV and 24-hour lighting, the tribunal found there were more options available including further improved lighting, “more prominent CCTV and possible modifications to the glazed shopfront”.

“While I accept incidents of vandalism and theft have occurred … on the evidence before me, other alternatives and improvements exist which have not been tried and therefore the proposed development is not, I find, a last resort,” the tribunal said.

Aldi and the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale have been contacted for comment.

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