POST 90: WHAT IS DRIVING THE MCGOWAN GOVERNMENT’S EXCESSIVE DEVELOPMENT OF OCEAN REEF MARINA?

Foreword

Population Research WA is based in Perth’s Northern suburbs, we support the Save Ocean Reef Community Group.

We examine the Labor governments population and housing density plans for Greater Perth and how this is influencing development outcomes such as Ocean Reef.

We are not opposed to responsible development work at Ocean Reef Marina.

Ocean Reef is not a world class development – it is a high-rise housing scheme.

The McGowan government’s huge housing development project for the Marina will have impacts on the ecological integrity of the coastal land and marine area.  

Large swathes of a bushland forever site is being cleared and substantial destruction of the surrounding Abalone reef. The reef forms part of Marmion Marine Park A class reserve.

The McGowan government excised an area of 143 hectares from Marmion Marine Park to enable the expansion of Ocean Reef Marina.

The project consists 1,000+ high dwellings, mostly high-rise 10 storey +, 12,000 square metres of retail / commercial space and 4,700 car and boat trailer parking.

The resident population could end up being 3,000 or more, in addition to the large number of tourists expected.

The social impacts on the surrounding suburbs, traffic demand for example, will be considerable.

There has also been protests from Indigenous peoples and claims of Aboriginal cultural heritage sites being damaged during site demolition.

The Labor government and  Planning Minister Rita Saffioti continue to ignore public concerns.

A Labor government hooked on rapid growth?

Population Research brings another dimension to the Ocean Reef Development, through the lens of population policy.

We provide an analysis exploring the Labor governments, population and housing density plans for Greater Perth and how this is influencing poor development outcomes such as Ocean Reef.

The evidence indicates  the government are using land agency Development WA to present the façade that Ocean Reef is a world class project and best environmental practice?

Development WA view the Marina as prime land for high density housing to accommodate Perth’s north west corridor and deliver the governments population policy, “in order to cater for this growth, we need to deliver a diverse range of new homes – and the new Ocean Reef Marina will play a role in this effort’’.

West Australian’s are beginning to experience the downside of the McGowan government’s plan for Perth and Peel, 3.5 million people by 2050. The overdevelopment at Ocean Reef is a prime example.

The government aim to pack nearly 50% of Perth’s population growth into established suburbs and fragile coastal zones such as Ocean Reef.

Indicating they are  subordinating sound environmental planning for the sake of rapid population growth for the Perth and Peel region.

Population Research have conducted preliminary work on an alternative population scenario  for Greater Perth, using Australian Bureau of Statistics projections, see Chart 1 below.

(Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Population Projections, Australia, 2018)

Note: The projections include assumptions by the Federal government of zero net overseas migration for 2020-21 and 2021-22, due to the Covid 19 pandemic and closure of Australia’s international border.

Highlighted in Chart 1 is an alternative population growth option. Nearly 40% less population growth compared to the government’s scenario.

Population Research option shows population growth driven more by natural increase, and less by Net Overseas Migration.

Sensible population increases will lessen community disruption, especially reducing demand for large infrastructure works. Importantly, curbing environmental loss, such as observed at Ocean Reef.

Ocean Reef Marina revenue flows?

A main driver of the large-scale project at Ocean Reef, is the economic gains through returns for land sales.

Given the Marina is taxpayer owned, West Australians expect the government be a reasonable guardian of coastal conservation areas? Not so.

 The government land agency Landcorp/Development WA plan is first lots released for sale in 2022.

Government revenue from Development WA is forecast to rise quickly from $17.1 million in 2020 to $84.4 million in 2022.

The development footprint has increased since Landcorp’s Business case was accepted by Government in 2017, it was 78.97 hectares. When fully developed the footprint will cover a land/sea area of approximately 91 hectares.

Concluding Remarks

Ocean Reef Marina is turning into a major overdevelopment. Demonstrating, West Australia’s weak environmental regulations, negligible social impact processes and an outdated planning system which eliminates any opportunity for the public to have third party appeal rights against poor development decisions by governments.

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