As Prime Minister Tony Abbott continues to try to sell himself as being an “infrastructure Prime Minister,” a media report has suggested that property developers in Perth are reeling from backpedalling on the part of both state and federal governments in terms of funding commitments for Perth’s light rail network.
According to a report in The Fifth Estate last week, plans for the 22-kilometre, $1.8 billion Metro Area Express (MAX) had been so advanced that developers had purchased land along the corridor for high density retail, commercial and residential development.
Respective decisions on the part of the Abbott government to pull out $500 million from the project and the Western Australian government to renege on its share of the financing, along with a consequential announcement from the state government late last year that the project’s expected completion date would be pushed out from 2018 until 2022, have cast doubt over whether and when some of these developments will indeed go ahead.
WA Property Council executive director Joe Lenzo says some projects along the corridor will now be low-density car-dependent residential developments while for others, developers would simply hold onto the land until the industry has greater certainty surrounding the project’s future.
He says the ‘certainty’ had now been taken out of the project, and some in the industry doubt even the revised time-frame will be delivered.
“There is no certainty; it might be three, five or ten years,” Lenzo is quoted as saying in the article. “The certainty has been taken out of the project and the [property] industry is looking to move on. If [the government] leave the situation as it is, they are quarantining an area of very high density development."
Lenzo says the light rail decision was counter to stated policies to encourage infill development within Perth and to aim for infill to account for at least 47 per cent of new builds within the city, saying without adequate public transport either the targets would not be met or the city’s road network would suffer from increased stress.
Set to run from Mirrabooka in the north to the CBD, the new line will then branch off into separate directions to go to the Victoria Park Transfer Station in the east and to QEII Medical Centre in the west.
Under the new timeline, the government says procurement will commence from mid-2017 while construction would commence in 2019.