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Kelmscott group wins appeal first step

THE group behind the $35 million Kelmscott Central Shopping Centre redevelopment project has won the first round in its appeal against the City of Armadale and the WA Planning Commission.

The Kelmscott Central Development Trust, controlled by Australian Real Estate Investment Limited (AREIL), announced that the Town Planning Appeal Tribunal had confirmed the validity of its development application for an extensive retail centre redevelopment, paving the way for a full-blown appeal.

Earlier in the year the trust lodged a development application with the City of Armadale seeking an increase in retail floor space to allow for a major expansion of the shopping centre.

The extension was to allow for the development of a discount department store, an expansion of the existing supermarket, a food court, office facilities, multi-screen cinema complex and around 60 specialty stores.

Due to the complex nature of the application, which involves privately held land as well as crown land vested in the City of Armadale and Western Australian Government Railways, its validity was questioned by the city.

Tiring of the extended time taken by both the City of Armadale and the WAPC to process the application – the application was lodged in November 2002 – the trust decided to go down the appeal path.

Project manager Dr Daniel Chesson said the trust was disappointed by the actions of the City of Armadale.

He said the city had delayed the project’s progress for seven months, resulting in the occurrence of significant costs, and even greater opportunity costs.

Dr Chesson said the WAPC had failed to deal with the application properly.

“They have not dealt with the application, nor have they lodged a respondent’s statement for the appeal, and they won’t respond to our communication.”

Dr Chesson said it was hard to imagine how a project so desperately needed and promising such substantial benefits to the community could provoke resistance at any level of government.

“We are trying to provide a good development for the Kelmscott community,” he said.

“Our expert consultants indicate that the construction costs will be more than $30 million and the development is projected to create approximately 700 jobs during construction, along with 700 jobs for the ongoing operation of the centre”.

Dr Chesson said an appeal was not the group’s preferred course of action, but rather it had been forced down that path.

The City of Armadale refuted the claim it had tried to delay the project, stating that the application involved reserves vested in both the city and WAGR and neither had been signatories to the application.

A city spokesperson said the council supported the proposal to redevelop the Kelmscott town centre, however it was not convinced that the scale and current form of the proposal was in the best interest of the wider community.

Council is concerned that the project is dependent on significant public infrastructure works, none of which has been either committed to or budgeted for by any of the affected authorities.

In order to accommodate the redevelopment project, the city spokesperson said, the city would need to set aside many years of funds for its existing and planned capital works program.

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