25/02/2010 - 00:00

Buckeridge blames LandCorp for slow pace of development

25/02/2010 - 00:00

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APPROVALS for property developments remain a major issue to the sector, which believes the delays caused by bureaucracy and regulatory hurdles are a huge financial burden.

Buckeridge blames LandCorp for slow pace of development

APPROVALS for property developments remain a major issue to the sector, which believes the delays caused by bureaucracy and regulatory hurdles are a huge financial burden.

Not only do developers require ever-increasing resources to deal with red tape, the process adds to uncertainty about timing and their ability to fund a project through to market.

Australia’s biggest home builder, Len Buckeridge, who is also a developer in his own right though his diversified construction and contracting group BGC, is one of those agitating for change.

Mr Buckeridge claims local authorities have delayed building licence applications for about 3,700 homes BGC is supplying. He has threatened to fund legal action for each of them in a bid to force a change in government behaviour.

The construction magnate also believes state government agency LandCorp has become a constraint to industrial land development.

His issue is that the agency, run by one of the state’s political survivors, Ross Holt, has become motivated by profit rather than driving land releases.

“They are duty bound to extract every dollar they can,” Mr Buckeridge said.

His argument is that LandCorp impedes industrial land development because of its determination to be part of the process. He claims the agency is opposed to developments that compete with its own, like that of Latitude 32 in Perth’s southern suburbs, and will often lease land rather than sell it, which has limited attraction to developers.

This slows development and increases land prices, particularly in the state’s north-west where industry is crying out for more land, Mr Buckeridge claims.

In response to Mr Buckeridge’s claims LandCorp stated that the state government’s approvals reform process would speed up land supply and the draft Industrial Land Strategy released for public comment would set the scene for ensuring long-term industrial land supply.

LandCorp business manager industrial John Hackett said in a statement that the agency had sought to improve access to industrial land, particularly in the north-west, in readiness for the next period of sustained economic growth.

The agency said it was developing a 280-hectare, 200-lot Wedgefield Estate at Port Hedland over the next 10 years, with 19 lots to be released in May. At Karratha’s Gap Ridge, expressions of interest have been sought on 60ha from a planned 200ha development. At Broome’s Blue Haze, the first stage of a 72-lot extension will be released at the end of the year.

The agency also hopes to have the first stages of a 400ha site about 10km from Broome available in 2012.

Overall, however, LandCorp releases for 2009-10, at 160ha statewide, are similar to those of the previous year’s 162ha. In the north-west, though, LandCorp says it has released 70ha this financial year, against about 11ha last year, with a significant amount of unsold stock carried over.

Land sales this year to the end of January were 76ha compared to 122ha the previous year, with leased land at 18ha compared to 20ha.

In addition, LandCorp said it was currently negotiating a number of leases for strategic industrial sites at the Burrup, Collie Shotts, Kwinana, East Rockingham and Ashburton North, which are yet to be concluded.

The agency said strategic industrial land was deemed as too important for the state’s future growth to be freehold. It generally benefits from significant state infrastructure investment, such as at the Australian Marine Complex.

 

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