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Gandel waits on second deal

THE City of Swan has given the go-ahead to Gandel Retail Management’s proposed $100 million redevelopment of the Midland Gate Shopping Centre.

The redevelopment includes an eight-screen cinema complex and entertainment precinct, a refurbished food court, a tavern, discount department store and a supermarket.  The proposed additions will increase the gross leasable area of the centre from 36,732 square metres to 54,235sq m.

The retail group is now awaiting final development approval from the Western Australian Planning Commission, however Gandel Retail Management is understood to be aiming to begin construction at the end of the year, with doors to open on the newly redeveloped centre by Christmas 2005.

Gandel Retail Trust acquired Midland Gate and Rockingham City Shopping Centre as part of the 2002 carve-up of the $1.4 billion Colonial First State Property Trust, which resulted in Gandel securing CFT’s $646.8 million worth of shopping centres.

But while Gandel’s modified redevelopment plans for Midland Gate have received a boost, its multi-million dollar redevelopment plans for Rockingham City Shopping Centre are not running quite as smoothly.

Gandel, with joint proponents Perpetual Nominees Ltd and Emergency Services Superannuation Board, recently lodged an appeal with the Town Planning Appeal Tribunal after the City of Rockingham failed to make a decision on its development application within the 90-day statutory period.

The case recently attracted the interest of Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan, who, for the first time since the introduction of the tribunal in April 2003, called in the planning appeal.

The redevelopment of the centre has been under discussion with the City of Rockingham since 2000. 

WA Business News understands that, since acquiring the complex, Gandel Retail Management has stepped up efforts to push the redevelopment venture.

It is understood that the impending expiry of the Aherns store, located at the western end of the complex, on June 30 this year has given the retail group greater incentive to secure redevelopment approval.

The proposed redevelopment is restricted to the western end of the centre and comprises an expanded Coles supermarket, new eight-screen 1700-seat cinema complex, 450-seat food court, an Irish pub and new ‘mini major’ stores.

The council had already approved a redevelopment proposal for the shopping centre by the proponents, however the new proposal submitted by Gandel and joint proponents was substantially different from the one previously approved and the City of Rockingham moved to defer the application.

Problems cited include insufficient car parking allowance, problems with traffic and pedestrian flow, and the plans lack of integration with public transport initiatives at the eastern end of the complex.

Ms MacTiernan said the appeal call-in followed a request from Rockingham City Council, which was concerned that the proposed plan could jeopardise the proper integrated transit-oriented development of the town centre.

Under Section 70 of the Town Planning and Development Act, the minister has the power to call in the appeal.

Under these conditions the tribunal will hear the appeal as normal, however the final decision will be minister’s.

Ms MacTiernan said the case raised issues of regional significance and it was appropriate that she made the final decision.

“This doesn’t in any way pre-empt a decision,” she said.

“But Rockingham City Council has raised issues that need to be carefully thought through, particularly as some of the planning has not yet been incorporated in the statutory framework.”

Ms MacTiernan said she considered the proposed redevelopment to be in the public interest and significant in terms of its relation-ship with existing and proposed public transport links and the Rockingham town centre.

The State Government has identified Rockingham as a ‘strategic regional centre’, and Ms MacTiernan said the city would play an important role in the success of the South West Transit System.

She said developments around major transit routes needed to be carefully considered to ensure that public transport became an increasingly more attractive alternative method of transport.

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