30/11/2011 - 10:47

Morgan to lead redevelopment authority

30/11/2011 - 10:47

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Morgan to lead redevelopment authority

THE East Perth Redevelopment Authority’s veteran chief executive, Tony Morgan, is expected to lead the state government’s newly formed Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (MRA) in the new year.

Mr Morgan has already installed planning director Ryan Keys as acting chief executive of EPRA and the Planning Minister John Day this week revealed he expected Mr Morgan would serve as acting chief executive when the MRA officially commenced operation in January.

Mr Day said Mr Morgan had already played a significant role coordinating the amalgamation of the Armadale, East Perth, Subiaco and Midland redevelopment authorities, but he would not be drawn on the likelihood of the appointment becoming permanent.

The MRA brings Perth’s four redevelopment authorities under a single planning authority that will also have responsibility for the transformational Perth City Link and Perth Waterfront projects.

Mr Morgan has been at the helm of EPRA for more than a decade and overseen its incremental expansion from East Perth into the heart of the city through the rejuvenation and revitalisation of Northbridge and the cultural centre.

Mr Morgan has long been rumoured as a frontrunner for the top job at the MRA and these odds shortened considerably this week after the Barnett government installed the Department of Planning director general and fellow contender, Eric Lumsden, as chair of the MRA board.

Redevelopment authorities in Western Australia have traditionally been led by an independent chair, such as current EPRA chair Stuart Hicks.

However in this instance, Mr Day said the focus was on ensuring strong alignment between the MRA and other parts of the planning system.

And he dismissed criticism the board appointments entrenched the state government’s influence on the MRA.

“We specifically included in the act establishing the MRA that there needed to be a member of the WA Planning Commission on this board … the most logical person is chairman of the WAPC,” Mr Day said.

 “All the other (board members) are not government employees, they are all independent but there is a rationale involved; three of them are chairs of the existing redevelopment authorities – Donald Humphreys is chair of Subiaco, Charles Johnson is chair of Armadale and Fred Affleck is chair of Midland.

“I thought, and cabinet agreed, that it was desirable to have input from each of the existing four redevelopment authority boards to ensure smooth transition into the new MRA.”

And Mr Day foreshadowed potential changes to the board make-up once the MRA had navigated its first year of operation.

Critics have already questioned the absence of any private sector representation on the MRA board, which Property Council of Australia WA executive director Joe Lenzo characterised as “solid and safe”.

But Mr Lenzo warned the council would be keeping a close eye on the board’s performance in its inaugural year and it wouldn’t be afraid to make some noise if it didn’t like what it saw.

“We would have liked to have seen a stronger private sector involvement in the board but we will wait to see how operationally good it is,” Mr Lenzo said.

“As a first board I would have expected something like this, it’s very solid and very safe.

 “However I think there are very good independent private sector people out there that would make a good contribution.”

The MRA is expected to work closely with private sector consultants, developers and the government architect, but Australian Institute of Architects WA chapter president David Karotkin said the board could still benefit from representation from the design sector.

“The risk in having a board born out of bureaucracy is that they will not provide expert advice without fear or favour,” Mr Karotkin said.

“And I think the inclusion of private sector members on the board would enhance its effectiveness.

“There is no point having a board of experts if they operate in an environment where they are not motivated to engage in independent and creative thought when steering such important projects for the future of our capital city.”

Mr Karotkin lambasted the state government in September for its decision to bundle five hectares of city land into one development package for the Perth City Link.

He argued it severely limited the number of developers that would submit plans for the transformational site.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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