Plans to develop a $100 million university campus have been scrapped, so what now for the Midland Redevelopment Authority?
THE Midland Redevelopment Authority has been forced to reassess its multi-million dollar redevelopment plans after Singapore-based Raffles Education Corporation withdrew its application to establish a university in the area.
Raffles had planned to accommodate 10,000 students at its Midland campus and invest more than $100 million in the first five years.
Neither Raffles nor WA Education Minister Liz Constable would discuss the reasons for the recent withdrawal.
The university was one of the major features in a proposed program of urban renewal at Midland’s heritage-listed Midland Railway Workshops, in addition to medical facilities, housing estates and a creative industries hub.
MRA chief executive Kieran Kinsella said the withdrawal was a major setback for the area.
“I think it’s a major setback for the whole corridor, not just Midland. It’ll take a while to fill the space, Raffles was talking about taking 11 hectares of land so we now need to reignite the momentum and start the selling and marketing of this concept again,” Mr Kinsella told WA Business News.
The MRA began work on the revitalisation of central Midland, including the Railway Workshops, in 2000.
The works include the redevelopment of an 80ha site comprising a bulky goods precinct bordering Clayton Street, the Midland Health Campus site and the former railway workshops themselves, a core heritage precinct that occupies 17ha.
The MRA said it planned to adapt the heritage-listed buildings to contemporary uses and create a unique urban village complementing its industrial heritage setting.
To date, a total of $123.6 million has been spent on the redevelopment, which is expected to be completed by 2017.
An economic impact report showed that, over the next 20 years, the redevelopment would inject $1.22 billion into the local economy and create more than 7,500 jobs.
So far the MRA has created new commercial and residential land subdivisions, built a new road network opening up the Workshops site, and defined the redevelopment area through landscaping, street furniture and public art works.
“Around the main square we will build mixed-use development buildings with cafes and shops and will try to activate this public space and turn it into a mini Federation Square for the eastern suburbs,” Mr Kinsella said.
The Workshops Village is the main heritage precinct for Midland, which will be revitalised to include commercial, residential, cultural and entertainment facilities through a mix of new buildings and the creative re-use of existing buildings.
The MRA also partnered with not-for-profit cultural organisation FORM to establish the ‘Midland Atelier’, which will provide a cooperative for artists situated at the Old Pattern Shop.
The heritage-listed Railway Workshops operated for almost 100 years, ceasing operations in 1994.
Forthcoming developments on the workshops site include the $10 million GP Super Clinic, awarded to Pindan, which will be constructed opposite the proposed site of the $360 million Midland Health Campus.
The Midland Health Campus will expand across 8ha and house a 300-bed hospital, construction of which will start in 2012.
The Department of Health recently shortlisted Ramsay Health Care and St John of God Health Care as potential providers to deliver the hospital.
Already in place adjacent to the workshops site is the WA Police Operations Centre and the Woodbridge Lakes residential estate.
The $23 million Western Australian police operations support centre sits within the old workshops and has 7,500 meters of office space, allowing for up to 650 police to be based at the site.
Woodbridge Lakes, the residential area around the historic Coal Dam on the workshops site, includes an award-winning park and public art.
Diploma Group has started building a 43-apartment block, anticipated to be finalised by mid 2011, while Foundation Housing is nearing completion of its 29 apartments.
“We are trying to provide people who live on the eastern side of the city with a contemporary lifestyle that gives them their ‘Subiaco’,” Mr Kinsella said.
Developing up market residential areas in the city centre would promote a safer night life environment, he suggested.
“With more people living in the town the place will get safer at night and anti-social behaviours will move away because we will be giving the streets back to people who want to enjoy themselves,” Mr Kinsella said.
According to Mr Kinsella, the City of Swan expects to grow by an extra 50,000 residents over the next 15 years.
“We’re slowly changing the town centre of Midland. The City of Swan has a population of 110,000 at the moment and there’s not a very big population that lives in the town centre, so we are trying to create that,” he said.