DEFENCE could stay at Leeuwin Barracks for several years as a tenant after it sells the $100 million East Freo site.
The department is planning to relocate its 400 staff and contractors to Irwin Barracks in Karrakatta, but must wait on the Turnbull government approving and completing a $175-million upgrade of that site.
Defence disposals director Kara Halliday says if everything goes smoothly the Leeuwin site could be on the market in the second half of next year.
The news Defence will stay on went down well with Cr Andrew MacPhail who was keen for the sprawling 14.3ha riverfront site to be maintained and not lie vacant for years after being sold.
This week East Fremantle council unveiled its draft vision for the site, created in conjunction with Defence, the state government and residents.
The plan includes 1500 apartments in about 25 blocks ranging from 2 to 15 storeys, a hotel, civic precinct, local centre and a parkland running down the spine of the development.
In a nod to calls from former navy recruits that the site’s military history be acknowledged, their memorial facing Riverside Road will be expanded with a reflective pond and “commemorative space”.
The proposed Niergarup parkland will feature pedestrian and dual-use paths linking smaller local parks which will feature signage outlining the site’s history as an important river-crossing point for Whadjuk Noongars through to its use as an army barracks.
But despite the high density housing, there’s virtually no mention of parking.
“The vision plan is a high level document … however, the modelling undertaken to determine the number of potential apartments has assumed much of the parking would be contained within the buildings themselves,” said East Fremantle council CEO Gary Tuffin in response to questions from the Herald. But he didn’t elaborate on where visitors to the site would be expected to park. There are only a few street parking bays mentioned.
Mr Tuffin added the redevelopment would not affect the two adjacent playing fields at Wauhop Park.
He says “water and land based” sustainable public transport options mentioned in the plan would require further input from the state government.
Ms Halliday said the collegiate approach had been good for Defence’s top brass.
“It’s been a bit of a change in the way we have done things,” she told East Fremantle council.
The Leeuwin plan was endorsed by the council for advertising at its council meeting on Tuesday.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK