MAINTENANCE LAPSED AT SEAWARD

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By JON BAS­SETT

A FED­ERAL Government re­view was told maintenance of SAS sol­diers’ homes lapsed be­fore a pro­posal to re­de­velop the houses at Seaward Vil­lage in Swan­bourne.

“The cur­rent level of maintenance of the homes is poor, and some be­lieve De­fence Hous­ing Aus­tralia has al­lowed the houses to de­grade by do­ing min­i­mal maintenance,” a re­port stated about pub­lic com­ments to a re­view of the re­de­vel­op­ment by Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Mark Evans.

DHA pro­posed to use half the 22ha vil­lage for 140 civil­ian lots and 165 new sol­diers’ homes in a high­den­sity precinct on the re­main­ing land, but com­mu­nity-based opposition for 22 months caused the pro­posal to be can­celled for a re­vamp of the vil­lage in­stead last month.

The re­port found many of the homes did not reach De­fence Force stan­dards and said the re­de­vel­op­ment “ap­pears to have been driven by a de­sire to ap­ply the DHA busi­ness model”.

“There ap­pears to have been a re­luc­tance to in­vest in im­prov­ing the vil­lage to any great ex­tent, in­di­cated by the ces­sa­tion of a re­fur­bish­ment pro­gram that was un­der­way in 2012,” the re­port said.

There was no find­ing about the level of maintenance in the two years be­tween the re­fur­bish­ment stop­ping and the Depart­ment of De­fence agree­ing to the re­de­vel­op­ment in 2014.

“The added at­trac­tion for De­fence was the costs and risks (of re­de­vel­op­ment) would largely be borne by DHA,” the re­port said.

It also found there was no de­tailed anal­y­sis of the homes’ con­di­tions be­fore re­de­vel­op­ment was pre­sented to De­fence.

“But many are still scep­ti­cal that DHA didn’t ful­fil its obli­ga­tions and let the houses go down­hill so they could jus­tify them be­ing bull­dozed,” Swan­bourne Coastal Al­liance con­venor Jean-Paul Orsini said.

DHA act­ing manag­ing direc­tor Jan Mason said DHA did vil­lage maintenance “as re­quested by res­i­dents”, re­sult­ing in spend­ing 146 per cent more than that done on other sol­diers’ home in Perth in the past five years.

Ms Mason said the 2015 Hous­ing Sur­vey had ques­tions of a “gen­eral na­ture” be­cause it col­lected in­for­ma­tion across Perth, not just Seaward Vil­lage.

She said DHA would abide if the Government put it back un­der the over­sight of the Par­lia­men­tary Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic Works.

As­sis­tant Min­is­ter for De­fence Michael McCor­mack said there were no plans to change DHA’s op­er­at­ing model.

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