CRITICS and supporters of the East Perth Redevelopment Authority may disagree on the big issues but are in concert on one thing – the authority has made a great success in extending its life span.
Supporters say EPRA is an organisation that has successfully redeveloped and reinvigorated tired areas of Perth, while those opposed to the authority criticise it as an opportunistic body that values the dollar over community.
Originally created by the Lawrence Labor Government in 1991 to redevelop 140 hectares of East Perth industrial land, EPRA’s boundaries have been progressively expanding over the past 12 years.
While EPRA handed back 75 per cent of the East Perth project to the City of Perth in February 2002, it is yet to redevelop more than 40ha in the Eastern Gateway project and 27ha in the Village Northbridge project.
A further five hectares of land at the Gateway is currently being acquired for redevelopment by EPRA, while expansion has been proposed to extend its boundaries to incorporate the foreshore open space north of the Causeway and south of Trinity College, including part of the Causeway.
Over the past 10 years EPRA has spent $90 million on infrastructure and $30 million on land acquisition. It has handed over $67 million in public infrastructure such as parks and roads.
The self-funding redevelopment authority has recorded almost $130 million in sales revenue to the end of March this year.
While those who live there would be hard pressed to criticise what EPRA’s redevelopment work did for surrounding property values in East Perth, there have been complaints about insufficient supply of affordable housing, failing to ensure a mix of residential design and diminishing areas of public open space.
Mindful of community sentiment, EPRA has planned The Village Northbridge to deliver more affordable housing and a scheme has been negotiated where 13 properties will be transferred to the Department of Housing and Works for a mix of affordable housing, special needs housing and public housing.
The City of Perth councillors have been among the most vocal opponents of the body for its moves inside the city’s municipal boundaries and resulting problems, described as the ‘long-term vision of the city versus the short term return from EPRA.’
The City of Perth has expressed concerns about shrinking public open space, the city’s inability to cover costs from rateable property versus the infrastructure provision/maintenance once EPRA returns redeveloped areas to City of Perth’s control, and that the EPRA has provided insufficient feedback on planning input from the city.
Currently there are council rumblings about the proposed boundary extension over the City Gateway entrance and rumours that EPRA potentially could take over the redevelopment of the land between Northbridge and Perth if the rail lines are sunk.
With the remainder of the original East Perth redevelopment area, Village Northbridge and the Gateway project to deal with, plus a role assisting the government assess the future of the East Perth Power Station, EPRA is guaranteed to be around for a further 10 years.
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