THE first lots of the $4.9 billion Cockburn Coast redevelopment went on sale this week.
On Wednesday WA lands minister Terry Redman launched the first stage, Shoreline: a skeleton construction crew has already made a start on the massive earthworks needed to prepare the former Robb Jetty abattoir and market gardens site for 5000 new residents, businesses and a primary school.
Workers told the Herald things will crank up later this month when huge scrapers move in, flattening the area and making it all-but unrecognisable in next to no time.
“The Cockburn Coast redevelopment is something that has never been attempted before in WA on this scale,” Mr Redman said.
When finished, the 109-hectare strip between South Beach and Port Coogee will house about 12,000 people in the state’s first foray into large-scale high-density living.
Most apartments will be around five to six storeys, rising to the equivalent of about 10 storeys at the old South Fremantle power station, which is to be redeveloped as a major entertainment and tourism hub in a later stage. There are also nodes of three-storey townhouses in the mix.
Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett praised the Barnett government and its development arm LandCorp for the project’s extensive consultation process.
“It’s been excellent, particularly with engaging the public and private landowners, and I’ve told them this should be adopted for all future land releases,” Mr Howlett told the Herald.
“We’ve hit every milestone, and on deadline.”
He says recognition that oceanfront land on this scale is a rare opportunity made all participants work harder to produce something special—extra prodding from his council and Fremantle helped.
The mayor reveals he and port city counterpart Brad Pettitt haven’t given up on a light rail system.
He’s scheming to make a planned entertainment precinct—centred around the power station—so popular the Barnett government will have to change its mind about light rail in order to cope with the numbers.
The mayor says he’s also pushing to have Scitech—or an offshoot—relocated to the station, and wants a museum on the ground floor and a giant water slide hanging off the top of the building—perhaps even into the ocean.
“They’re hugely popular on the Gold Coast,” he says, clearly energised at the prospect.
Mr Howlett is also floating a robotics research centre for the old station, saying there’s a lot of local interest and it could help forge a new high-tech industry, as recommended in the Abbott government’s recent Intergenerational Report.
He says including an entertainment district will help avoid repeating the empty, sterile feeling that dogs Cockburn Central. And he says mandating a higher mix of affordable housing should attract more families, not just wealthy retirees.
Fremantle Labor MP Simone McGurk still harbours reservations that LandCorp is allowing development too close to the adjacent rail freight line.
“In other developments along the Cockburn Coast, neither LandCorp nor the council have shown any indication they will require decent setbacks from the freight line, or any building along the is non-residential,” she told the Herald. “This is crucial for quality of residences and to ensure we can get full use from the freight rail infrastructure.”
Ms McGurk notes the power station entertainment precinct is unlikely to get up unless the government commits $120 million to shift a nearby switching station.
“The government is more interested in selling Freo assets and taking the cash, but not investing any of that money back,” she said.
by STEVE GRANT