Call to recost housing project
THE reviewer of the controversial Seaward Village redevelopment wants Defence Housing Australia (DHA) to recost its controversial proposal to sell new civilian housing blocks in a falling market at the SAS village in Swanbourne.
“So it’s going to be more difficult for DHA to meet what they already claim is their loss, and it will be greater than 12 months ago,” retired Lieutenant-General Mark Evans said after meeting about 80 ratepayers opposed to the DHA plans at Nedlands Tennis Club last Thursday.
Last year, DHA said the project, that proposes flattening half the 22ha village for 165 civilian homes, could have a $25 million shortfall.
Lt-Gen Evans said he had directed DHA to work on new costs and provide other options for the village last week.
His review compares refurbishing village homes instead of redevelopment, the security of having civilian homes 300m from the SAS’ Campbell Barracks, the proposal’s social impact and any future covenant for the site next to Allen Park.
Friends of Allen Park member and meeting chairman Michael Anderson said land for the village and barracks was gifted to the Department of Defence only for defence needs – not private development – before it was given to DHA, which was not using it for its intended purpose.
Swanbourne Coastal Alliance convenor Jean-Paul Orsini said a covenant may be lifted a second time to sell more land if DHA “had a $50 million hole in its balance sheets” and could not recoup the project’s initial Federal Government funding.
Lt-Gen Evans said only the Department of Defence could lift the covenant and he was doing risk assessments on the proposed redevelopment’s business case, its environmental impact and the strategic and tactical implications of the project.
He also met SAS wives, the Australian SAS Association, WA Planning Commission and Curtin MHR Julie Bishop, before meeting Friends of Allen Park and residents at Melon Hill last Tuesday.
After the meetings, there were concerns in the community about review team member and Department of Defence acting assistant secretary of estate support Alan McClelland, including his perceived connection to early DHA information sessions at the Ocean Beach Hotel.
Mr McClelland said he worked for the Department of Defence and was part of the review team helping LtGen Evans.
The report is due by February 29.
Lt-Gen Mark Evans (in tie) discussing with residents and environmentalists on Melon Hill the impact of Seaward Village redevelopment last Tuesday.