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Tough luck': Libs call for East Perth concrete plant backflip

Nov 02, 2023

This was published 3 years ago

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Shadow planning minister Mike Nahan has urged the state government to reverse a decision to force two concrete batching plants out of the Claisebrook precinct in East Perth, warning their removal could hinder or cancel new developments in the CBD.

The Hanson and Holcim batching plants have been in the East Perth area for more than four decades and in their current locations since the mid-90s but residential developments have been edging closer, and with them, increased community and council opposition.

The Hanson concrete batching plant in East Perth.Credit: Hamish Hastie

The companies were beaten in 2017 when then-acting Planning Minister Ben Wyatt upheld a City of Vincent zoning change to exclude industrial operations in the area and turn it into a mixed-use residential and commercial precinct.

Mr Wyatt declared the companies had until 2024 to find a new location, but more than two years on nothing has been announced.

The time it takes for concrete to get from the batching plant to its pouring location can heavily influence the price and timeline of projects. Longer delivery times can impact concrete quality and force companies to use additives to slow the reaction.

In submissions to high-level planning documents in 2016, the companies said the batching plants needed to be within 2-4 kilometres of the CBD if projects were to remain unaffected.

Dr Nahan said batching plants were complex pieces of infrastructure and time was running out to relocate them.

"These people have to sign contracts and have to get on their bike and redevelop it and it is getting to be an impossibility," he said.

"The reality is the government's position cannot be implemented.

"If those batching plants are forced to move without a site it's going to halt developments and high rise developments in the city, full stop."

Dr Nahan said the state government needed to reverse the City of Vincent's zoning changes and offered little sympathy for those opposed to the plants.

"They just have to override them, and the people who built those apartments there, well, tough luck in my view, it happens all the time in life, they knew what they were doing," he said.

"It's as simple as that; there is plenty of land not too far from there that can be used for high rises."

A state government spokesman said the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage was supporting batching plant operators in their relocation effort, including identifying potential land that met criteria identified by a working group established in 2018.

He said there were "complex planning and environmental matters" to be considered before the process could be finalised but did not reveal what timeframe they were working to.

City of Vincent mayor Emma Cole said allowing concrete plants to operate further would simply delay the realisation of the East Perth Claisebrook area's vision.

"The concrete batching plants will be phased out, making way for a unique mix of businesses and residential development to grow and prosper," she said.

"Claisebrook will provide many new housing opportunities and many new people that will activate this area close to the Claisebrook train station and encourage future redevelopment just 1.5km from the Perth CBD."

She said the city supported the relocation of the plants and would work with the companies to facilitate it but there was no suitable industrial land in the City of Vincent for them.

Greens state upper house member and East Perth resident Alison Xamon has been one of the most vocal opponents of the batching plants and was incensed by Dr Nahan's comments.

...the people who built those apartments there, well, tough luck in my view, it happens all the time in life...

"Under no circumstances should the government even contemplate reversing the excellent decision that was made to require these concrete batching plants in Claisebrook to move," she said.

"The appalling situation was that they were allowed to stay as long as they have. It was one of those unique situations where the council, residents, businesses and developers are all on the same page.

"We are all keen to be able to develop the Claisebrook precinct into a vibrant area which will absolutely complement the sorts of developments which are being contemplated around the area now."

Hanson did not respond to a list of questions about how close it was to a solution or what the ideal solution would be.

A spokeswoman for the company only stated it was working with the state to ensure the continuity of its operations and the ongoing supply of materials for projects in Perth's growing CBD.

Holcim was approached for comment.