07/05/2008 - 22:00

Baldivis waste water threat

07/05/2008 - 22:00

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Once predominantly known for its market gardens and hobby farms, Baldivis has been succumbing to Perth’s urban sprawl for several years as land shortages and rising property prices force development out to the city’s fringe.

Baldivis waste water threat

Once predominantly known for its market gardens and hobby farms, Baldivis has been succumbing to Perth’s urban sprawl for several years as land shortages and rising property prices force development out to the city’s fringe.

However, several projects in the eastern part of the suburb are under threat due to a lack of sewerage infrastructure, which developers claim is the result of poor management by the state government.

The affected area is 380 hectares of land in East Baldivis – the vast bulk of which is held by five developers – lying between Baldivis Road and the freeway, which could be divided into about 3,800 lots.

In order for residential development to go ahead, the area must be rezoned from ‘rural’ to ‘urban’ under the Metropolitan Region Scheme (MRS).

Yet the rezoning, which was initiated in 2005, is being opposed by the Water Corporation on the grounds that existing sewerage infrastructure could not cope with additional demand if the entire area was converted to housing.

The issue has prompted the five land holding developers – Australand Property Group, Peet Ltd, Watson Property Group, SAS Global Property Group and Golden Assets Pty Ltd – to form the Baldivis East Stakeholder Team, in order to lobby for the rezoning.

They argue that the wastewater treatment plant planned for East Rockingham, to be commissioned in 2015, will provide enough extra capacity to support more housing.

The Water Corporation has said it is already under pressure to meet demand in Baldivis, and could only provide for 70 per cent of the land currently zoned urban if it was developed.

However, RPS Koltasz Smith senior town planner, Rob Sklarski, who has been consulted by several developers, said it was unrealistic to expect all the existing land would be built on.

“Peet commissioned a study to gauge lot uptake in Baldivis, and based on current trends, if the land was zoned urban we still would not have hit peak capacity by 2015,” Mr Sklarski said.

Part of the issue, according to some of the developers, is that the Water Corporation is yet to secure the site for its wastewater treatment plant in East Rockingham from LandCorp.

While the site is available, and an application for the lot to be transferred has been lodged with the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC), environmental approvals have not been secured.  

The issue is also likely to affect the state government’s 4,000ha  landholding between Mandurah and Rockingham, called Amarillo, which is pegged for development through a public-private joint venture and will also use the sewage infrastructure.

The Water Corporation’s wastewater treatment facility in Kwinana is already at capacity.

NSW-based Australand Property Group has bought about 70ha  in the area, which it settled on six months ago, and hopes to develop about 700 lots on the site.

The company’s WA business development manager, Stuart Carter, said the capacity issue should not have reached this stage, given plans for a wastewater plant in East Rockingham were first put forward in 1992.

“It’s taken a long time to be resolved and that’s another source of frustration – this has been on the radar for 15 years,” he said.

“Not all the urban zoned land [in Baldivis] is going to be built on, so there should be extra capacity allowed. Some of that land is in private ownership.”

Hearings on the East Baldivis MRS amendment were held by the WAPC last month, and the amendment is currently with the Department for Planning and Infrastructure awaiting approval.

The Water Corporation was unavailable for comment.

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