03/12/2009 - 00:00

Industrial lands plan aims to clear hurdles

03/12/2009 - 00:00


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PLANNING Minister John Day has released a new industrial lands strategy with a focus on general and light industry needs for the next 20 years.

PLANNING Minister John Day has released a new industrial lands strategy with a focus on general and light industry needs for the next 20 years.

Mr Day said in a statement last week the strategy provided the framework to ensure economic growth and sustainability for metropolitan Perth and the Peel area.

The paper identified 40 sites with the potential to be developed for industrial land use, including extensions to existing industrial areas, and six sites that have been shortlisted as priorities for detailed feasibility assessment.

The study also identified that Perth’s industrial land market requires an additional 500 hectares of land each year to cope with underlying demand.

A key element of the strategy is the de-constraining of existing sites and the removal of obstacles in place to ensure industrial land is ready to be developed.

LandCorp general manager metropolitan Luke Willcock told WA Business News removing constraints at industrial sites would help avoid a repeat of incidents that have led to 90 Western Australian jobs potentially being lost overseas.

Mr Willcock said issues arose at the Latitude 32 industrial precinct after Emanuel Dillon, managing director of transportable housing firm Complete Portables, applied to LandCorp to store equipment on a Latitude 32 site.

The site is currently zoned rural, and is part of a long-term strategy by LandCorp to be developed for industrial use.

“We allow temporary uses until we know what the future use is,” Mr Willcock said.

“We like to think of that as actually being very flexible and helping industry, we are happy for him to store his transportables there, we want him to do that, we want industry to make use of this land until it’s ready to be used.

“The reality is until the extractive uses are done (at Latitude 32) and the infrastructure comes in, you don’t want someone spending $1 million on the site because they might have to knock it down.”

According to Mr Willcock, Mr Dillon sought to develop the site and started earthworks, before the Western Australian Planning Commission put a stop work order on the site because of a breach of approvals.

Mr Willcock said there was a risk-management issue with excavating the land, which is close to the Dampier-Bunbury gas pipeline.

According to Mr Willcock, Mr Dillon retrospectively applied for development approvals, which were not granted within the standard period of 60 days, and subsequently appealed the matter at the State Administrative Tribunal.

Mr Dillon said he had waited more than 75 days before making contact with the WAPC regarding the development application, but appealed to the SAT after he was told the matter had not yet been examined.

Mr Dillon told WA Business News he had started developing plans to relocate the Complete Portables manufacturing facility to an alternative site in China.

The new planning strategy would help to ensure that the situation was not repeated, Mr Willcock said.

“People will now know where the industrial land is today, and where the industrial land will be tomorrow,” he said.

“Issues like Mr Dillon’s will become less and less because it will be very clear where industrial land is today and where will it be tomorrow.

“So if you want to build a shed and do some development now, you’ll know where that is, and if you’re a land developer, they’ll know where to do it and how to do it.

“You won’t get this problem in places like this where people think that’s going to be ready tomorrow, so I’ll buy here, and then they get told, ‘no that’s 15 years away’. They have that information now.”

Western Australian Planning Commission director general Eric Lumsden said another key element of the strategy was the engagement of the private sector to be more active in the development of industrial land.

Mr Lumsden said the state government had traditionally been the major player in industrial land, with private sector investment dominated by smaller owner-occupiers.

“State governments can facilitate private sector investment by ensuring that the planning, development and timing of industrial land is undertaken with the needs of investors in mind,” he said.

“An important consideration is the reduction of perceived investment risk through the timely provision of infrastructure and the removal of uncertainty over environmental clearances, land use permissions, buffer zone protection and excessive restrictions on lot consolidation and configuration.”



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