Approval for slimmed down Port Kennedy

AN announcement this week regarding the reassignment of the development rights for the Port Kennedy development is being hailed a step forward for the embattled development.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan has told parliament she intends to assign the development rights to Pac Asia, based on a number of different conditions.

The re-assignment of the rights to the group originally involved in the ambitious tourism development south of Perth has been met with subdued enthusiasm.

Central to the deal is Pac Asia’s commitment to pay the majority of unsecured creditors of Port Kennedy Resorts (PKR).

Market analysts suggest the Government is testing the water with its announcement before any final deal is agreed to.

Under any agreement the site is likely to be redeveloped as a seaside residential development with a number of key tourism elements.

However, the major hotel developments included in the initial pitch are unlikely to see the light of day.

“It’ll be a residential seaside development with a mix of short-stay tourism and residential uses,” a market analyst said.

“But it’s still got a high-profile golf course.”

The Government has stated that it has not consented to any alterations to the project and any variations will only be considered following a full project review and public consultation.

While the announcement of the imminent re-assignment of the development rights is seen as a positive sign for the embattled development, some residents remain concerned about a shift towards residential development.

“The failure of PKR to progress the project and deliver the important community infrastructure commitments contained in the agreement has resulted in growing community concern over the future of the locality and diminished market interest in the project,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“This assignment will serve to dispel community uncertainty and restore confidence in what will be an important recreation and tourism asset for the State.”

However, Port Kennedy Action Group secretary Roland Sharpe remains unconvinced and seriously worried that the resultant seaside residential resort will not deliver important tourism infrastructure, including a marina to service tourist ferries.

“Our biggest fear is about the amount of land that goes to residential housing. We just hope the infrastructure promised will take place,” Mr Sharpe said.

“Our concern is that if you remove the marina it should be replaced by something quite substantial.

“It’s a good outcome. The only concern I have is that Pac Asia didn’t pass the test last time I just hope they will this time.”

He said the area needed something more substantial than a simple boat ramp to service the permanent residents and allow tourist ferries to visit Port Kennedy.

There also were environmental issues, including the effect the development would have on the colony of Little Penguins that live on nearby Penguin Island.

Research undertaken by Dr Belinda Carnnell has suggested the proposed marina would decimate the white bait hatchery the penguins rely on during chick rearing.

Mr Shape said the construction of a groyne would encourage fish breeding. But it’s the tourism infrastructure that is most crucial to the future of the development, according to Mr Sharpe.

“There’s nothing between Rocky Beach and Mandurah in relation to hotels or cafe strips,” he said.

However, the recent planning approval for the12-storey Ramada Hotel in Rockingham is set to add an important new dimension to tourism facilities south of Perth.

Freehills partner Konrad de Kerloy, acting for Pac Asia holding, referred any questions regarding the development to the Government.

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