Military might look to sell up

THE Department of Defence is examining a number of exciting property development options for its extensive land portfolio, scattered throughout some of the oldest and wealthiest suburbs in metropolitan Perth.

While no formal plans have been made public, the Department of Defence is very open about its desire to access the equity in under-utilised defence sites around the country.

Defence experts have confirmed usage at several big Perth sites is well below capacity. The development possibilities for these unique sites have excited many in the property industry.

Leeuwin Barracks in Fremantle, for example, commands breath-taking views of the Swan River and any residential subdivision would attract six-figure bids at auction.

Similarly, Irwin Barracks, opposite the Karrakatta Cemetery, sits just in front of the St Peter’s Square residential development.

The infrastructure at Irwin Barracks was originally developed during World War II, when there was no shortage of land around Karrakatta.

Demand for residential land is now exerting pressure on the site and an initial study has been undertaken to investigate different uses for the property.

However, it’s not just a case of totalling up the value of the land. There are other important considerations, including the redevelopment options for the barracks either at a new location or on a smaller footprint on the property.

“The Department of Defence is currently undertaking a study into the future use of Irwin Barracks,” Australian Defence Force Corporate Services and Infrastructure Group Wing Commander Alan Griffiths said.

“Until that is developed fully we won’t be making any decisions about development options.

“An internal study will initially look at the force’s development requirements before it gets into the public arena.”

It is understood that research is being undertaken on a number of defence properties around the State, taking into consideration the value of the land and the future demands of the defence force, both locally and as part of a national strategy.

Australia Defence Association executive director Michael O’Connor said the Defence Force had been unloading properties for some years now.

“A lot of them are holdovers from World War II and they are significantly under-utilised except for Campbell Barracks,” he said

“There’s fairly heavy investment there.

“The Defence Department is interested in getting the cash for these properties.

“There are quite large amounts of land all around the country. North Head in Sydney used to be the School of Artillery, but eventually it was moved down to Victoria.

“In more recent years there’s been a much smaller defence force occupying large parcels of land, some of which is very valuable real estate.

“A lot of the land is now inner suburbs and as the size and shape of the community changes, so do the defence needs.”

p See Property, page 21

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