08/08/2014 - 15:55

Keralup no-go pressures land supply

08/08/2014 - 15:55

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A southern region MP has lashed out at state government bureaucracy due to the scrapping of the Department of Housing’s 3,000-hectare Keralup land development.

Peter Marsh says he was forced to move from Mandurah to Port Kennedy because of the rising cost of suitable industrial land.

Nearly a decade after it was proposed, a residential project expected to alleviate housing supply issues in the Peel region has been put on the backburner.

A southern region MP has lashed out at state government bureaucracy due to the scrapping of the Department of Housing’s 3,000-hectare Keralup land development.

Murray Wellington MLA Murray Cowper said the shelving of Keralup highlighted blockages in the planning system that were hindering residential and industrial development in the Peel region.

Located between Mandurah and Rockingham, the Keralup project was floated by then-housing minister Michelle Roberts in 2007.

The plan was to use 3,000ha of state-owned land to help meet a predicted shortfall of 30,000 new dwellings in the Peel and South West regions by 2021.

Ultimately, Keralup was slated to provide homes for between 80,000 and 100,000 people. 

But last week, Mr Cowper said he had been told by Premier Colin Barnett the Keralup plan was now defunct and, as he understood, it would be sold off as environmental offsets for future land developments.

Planning Minister John Day would not confirm or deny that the project had in fact been scrapped, instead saying Keralup would be included in sub-regional structure plans being formulated by the Department of Planning.

“The suitability of land for future urban development at Keralup, as well as other areas in the Perth and Peel regions, will be determined through the sub-regional structure plans for these regions, due for release later this year or early 2015,” Mr Day said.

However, Mr Cowper said the collapse of Keralup confirmed the state government’s bureaucracy was not able to cope with its own red tape, adding to land supply pressures in the area.

“Now that we’ve got a situation where Keralup is a no-go, we’ve got an urgent issue of supply of land,” he said. 

“People in my electorate who want to work and live in this area, primarily around Alcoa and sundry industries, want access to supply of good housing and at the moment we will run out of housing in this area very shortly.”

Part of the Keralup plan was the creation of a new industrial precinct, the 1,200ha Nambeelup Industrial Estate, to provide up to 17,000 jobs for the influx of residents.

Industrial land is in tight supply in the region, according to Shire of Murray executive manager of strategic and economic development Brett Flugge.

Mr Flugge said the only activity in the industrial market in the Peel region during the past 12 to 18 months had been from investors looking for leased properties showing strong rental income.

There are three industrial estates either established or to be constructed in the Peel region – Pinjarra Quadrant Enterprise Park, LandCorp’s Pinjarra Industrial Estate, and the Nambeelup estate.

About 24 lots ranging from 2,000 square metres to 8,000sqm were developed in 2009 at LandCorp’s estate, but only 10 of those lots have been sold.

The Quadrant Enterprise Park is yet to be developed, but the plan is to create 85 lots with a minimum size of 1,000sqm, under a strategy approved by the Western Australian Planning Commission in June.

“The shortage of available serviced industrial land in and around Mandurah is causing concern that industrial growth is not matching the rapid increase in population growth throughout the region,” Mr Flugge said.

Mr Cowper said he had been approached by a number of businesses that had not been able to expand their operations or workforces.

One of those businesses, which had been forced to move to Port Kennedy, was patio and shed manufacturer Marsh Outdoor Living Centres.

Owner Peter Marsh said the lack of supply of suitable industrial plots in the Mandurah area had driven up costs to a point where staying in the area was no longer viable.

The company’s main manufacturing facility is now based in Port Kennedy.

“The block of land in Port Kennedy was one tenth the cost of a similar block of land in Mandurah,” Mr Marsh said.

“Being a manufacturer, we need a place where we can weld and bang and grind, but the City of Mandurah is keen on having retail people in their industrial areas rather than manufacturers.

“When we first started 17 years ago there were wreckers and carmakers and people welding and grinding all through these areas.

“But nowadays, if you drive through it’s more retail shops than anything.”

Mr Marsh said his business was not alone in having to move out of the area due to increased costs.

“I know the bloke across the road, he was in the same situation as me,” he said.

“He bought the place across the road because he couldn’t work out of the Mandurah council.”

Despite the need for more residential and industrial land in the area, Mr Cowper maintained he was not a supporter of the Keralup project from the outset.

Mr Cowper alleged land developers in the region, including Satterley Property Group and Peet, had held back from proceeding with projects in lieu of developments at Keralup.

“We’ve always known there have been some serious environmental issues, it’s a smelly backwater full of tiger snakes and mosquitoes, that’s how it can best be described, but notwithstanding that, we’ve got a whole bunch of privately-held land that’s been held up in favour of Keralup,” he said.

Mr Cowper alleged the Nambeelup industrial estate had also been thwarted in the planning and approvals system in favour of the Department of Housing’s Keralup plan. 

“We have gotten some documents through the Freedom of Information Act that have shown there has been a deliberate stalling of development in the Murray Shire and other places in favour of Keralup, so everything could be favourable for Keralup to proceed with some success,” he said.

The Planning Minister did not respond to that allegation directly, but said a draft Nambeelup Industrial Area district structure plan was endorsed by the Murray Shire Council, subject to a number of conditions, last year.

“Finalisation of the plan is being progressed in line with work on the sub-regional structure plan and associated environmental studies,” Mr Day said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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