30/10/2007 - 22:00

Approval for university land project

30/10/2007 - 22:00

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The University of Western Australia’s long-running battle to develop a 33-hectare parcel of land in Shenton Park looks set to proceed after the Environmental Protection Authority concluded that its proposal was acceptable.

The University of Western Australia’s long-running battle to develop a 33-hectare parcel of land in Shenton Park looks set to proceed after the Environmental Protection Authority concluded that its proposal was acceptable.

The university is likely to reap an estimated $40 million from the sale of 13ha of land for residential purposes.

It has been trying for nearly a decade to develop the land on Underwood Avenue but has been stymied by objections from local residents and conservationists.

The latest proposal includes the establishment of a 10ha conservation area and 1.9ha of public open space.

The residual development area would comprise 13ha for residential purposes, with the remaining 12ha set aside for future development for “university purposes”.

The residential portion is expected to comprise between 130 and 160 individual lots plus some group housing allotments.

A spokesperson for the university said it was pleased with the EPA recommendation but noted that this was only one part of the ongoing approvals process.

The EPA’s report is subject to appeal until November 12, with a final decision to be made by Environment Minister David Templeman.

The EPA noted that it had reviewed the UWA proposal in various forms on two previous occasions.

In 2001, it rejected the university’s original plan, which included 8.5ha for bushland conservation.

The university subsequently increased the size of the conservation area but its revised plan was rejected in 2005, in part because of the poor condition of the conservation area.

In the latest proposal, the conservation area includes a consolidated area of the best available habitat.

The EPA said the public open space would contribute to biodiversity values but because of its relatively small size will require a concerted management effort.

“The EPA considers the issue of biodiversity values has been adequately addressed and the conservation areas, which include the public open space, are sufficient to meet the EPA’s objectives for this factor,” its report said.

The 12ha area set aside for university purposes is currently affected by odours from the Water Corporation’s Subiaco waste water treatment plant, and is classified as ‘odour buffer’ in the licence for the treatment plant.

The EPA has supported the university’s plan to keep this area vegetated as long as the buffer remains.

The buffer can only be changed in the treatment plant licence with the agreement of the Department of Environment and Conservation.

The EPA has recommended that the bushland in the odour buffer closest to the treatment plant be enhanced by rehabilitation.

In relation to odour, the EPA notes that the Water Corporation has undertaken extensive upgrades of the treatment plant to reduce emissions.

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