06/05/2014 - 15:53

Historic Midland steps up to the blocks

06/05/2014 - 15:53

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Midland's goal to become a commercial hub is quietly being realised, 14 years after the state government put the wheels in motion on one of Perth’s largest urban redevelopment projects.

Historic Midland steps up to the blocks
Charlie Zannino outside the new Police complex and the under-construction Midland Health Campus, projects which have transformed the face of the suburb. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Midland's goal to become a commercial hub is quietly being realised, 14 years after the state government put the wheels in motion on one of Perth’s largest urban redevelopment projects.

The historic suburb has been the subject of major revitalisation since 2000, when the Midland Redevelopment Authority was established.

The authority, which has since become part of the overarching Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority, focused on medium to high-density housing around the Midland train line, as well as a major restoration of the Midland Railway Workshops.

Since 2000, 3,750 new dwellings have been constructed in the town centre, with more than 7,500 jobs created in the process.

The MRA’s efforts, which progressed in collaboration with the City of Swan and the Swan Chamber of Commerce, have resulted in more than $1.5 billion of investment by the state government and the private sector.

City of Swan mayor Charlie Zannino said the clearest measure of the redevelopment’s success was the rapid growth in the area’s property prices.

In 2004, the median house price in Midland was around $180,000. At the end of 2013, median home values had more than doubled to $383,250.

“If you go back 14 years ago, Midland had a bit of a stigma attached to it,” Mr Zannino told Business News.

“Now, parts of the town have become really upmarket areas; there are million dollar homes out here.”

The revitalisation has been underpinned by major infrastructure projects, the largest being a $350 million public hospital, a public-private partnership with St John of God Healthcare.

St John of God also has plans to construct a $60 million private hospital once the adjacent public facility is completed.

Health Minister Kim Hames said last month the hospital had reached the halfway mark of the construction phase, with the facility on track to open in 2015.

Once complete, the hospital, which is being built by Brookfield Multiplex, will have the capacity to treat 55,000 patients a year.

Mr Zannino said the hospital had made a huge impact on altering public perceptions of Midland.

“It’s lifted the morale of the local businesses,” he said.

“There are a lot of other industries associated with medicine and the medical industry that want to be in close proximity to the hospital.

“We are getting a lot of inquiry from businesses that want to locate in the area. It’s been a huge positive for the whole town.”

Alongside the hospital is a $50 million police complex, which is the state’s largest, and a $12 million GP super clinic housed in parts of the Midland Railway Workshops.

The other major project that has underpinned Midland’s renaissance is the creation of a new main street – The Crescent.

The Crescent is largely dominated by mixed-use developments, with cafe, retail and commercial premises on the ground floor of residential buildings.

Last week, the Metropolitan East Joint Development Assessment Panel approved an $11 million proposal for a seven-storey hotel on The Crescent.

“That whole area now has become a bit like a cafe strip, and it’s very popular,’” Mr Zannino said.

“With the apartment developments, where people are actually living in the town itself, and with the cafes and other developments like the microbrewery, the restaurants, the arts centre and other things that have sprung up, they attract people and keep people in Midland.

“Rather than people having to go to the city, it’s all there and it’s keeping people in the town and the town is really coming alive.

“People think Midland is out in the sticks, but in reality, the only thing we can’t offer people is a beach.”

Next up for the MRA is a trio of residential development sites adjacent to the Midland Railway Workshops.

The MRA has launched an offers-to-purchase campaign for the sites, which have been earmarked for medium-density apartment and townhouse developments.

A review of the Midland master plan is under way, while plans are also in motion to relocate the Midland train station to a site adjacent to the hospital, freeing up more prime city centre land for residential and commercial development.

The MRA has also completed works on Railway Square, a new public space, which will be bordered by retail, food and beverage outlets, as well as spaces for events and outdoor activities.

Planning Minister John Day said the square would be an important aspect of the transformation of the workshops precinct into a contemporary urban village.

Also mooted at Midland is a $150 million expansion of the Midland Gate shopping centre.

Last month, the Department of Planning gave the nod to Colonial First State Asset Management’s proposal to expand the centre to 76,000 square metres, which would make it the second-largest in Perth, behind Westfield Carousel in Cannington.

Midland Gate was also the state’s second-busiest centre last year, with more than 12 million customers.

Mr Zannino said the city was also focusing its efforts on attracting a tertiary education facility to the railway workshops site, after a proposal from Singapore-based Raffles Education Corporation fell over in 2011.

Curtin University has expressed an interest in establishing a medical school near the Midland hospital, while the state government has committed $22 million to assist in attracting a university to set up shop in the suburb.

“Having a university in Midland just makes sense,” Mr Zannino said.

Curtin University are looking at it, primarily they are looking at having a medical school initially, which is fine, but as far as the city is concerned, if we have a university, we need a university that is going to offer a whole range of courses.”

Mr Zannino said discussions with potential universities were continuing, with the proposal drawing interest from a number of parties outside of Western Australia, including the University of Western Sydney. 

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