What’s Happening Here – Leeuwin Barracks, East Freo?

There’s a whole lot of demolition activity going on right now at the Leeuwin Barracks.

If you drive past or walk near the Preston Point Road, East Fremantle frontage of the 14.3 hectare Leeuwin Barracks site you’ll be able to see for yourself.

Leeuwin Barracks site bordered by yellow broken line

Here’s a few recent pics to give you the idea!

There are two or three machines knocking things over and clearing rubble.

By the look of it, there are a few more buildings to be knocked over yet.

As most East Freo residents know, around 8 years ago the Commonwealth Government through Department of Defence indicated the site might be surplus to requirements and signalled the potential private sale to private developers. What a residential development it would make!

In 2017, the Leeuwin Vision Plan was developed for the site following community consultation. It shows some higher density forms of development on the site, with views further from the east protected and public open-space areas situated between Preston Point Road and Riverside Road. All very glossy.

The sale process was then underway.

But in late in 2021, the Commonwealth (Morrison) Government announced it was pausing sale of the site pending a review of defence accommodation requirements. It was explained that –

Defence’s accommodation requirements in Perth and Fremantle have changed over the past 24 months as a result of forecast new Royal Australian Navy capabilities and workforce growth.

“As such, Defence is temporarily suspending the disposal of Leeuwin Barracks to allow for a study of the long-term Defence estate requirements in the Perth and Fremantle region.

“Defence is planning to have this study completed by the first quarter of 2022.

Well, the first quarter of 2022 has come and gone and the study is yet to see the light of day. Covid may help to explain some of the nearly 12 month delay in revealing Defence’s intentions, but even so, they must be close to doing so.

Interestingly, however, in September 2022, just a few months ago, a WA Planning Commission endorsed Town of East Fremantle Local Planning Strategy would see the site zoned Urban, ready for private development.

Given these planning steps, and now the demolition works, one might be forgiven for thinking an announcement from the Commonwealth on the future of the site is nigh and the pause on the sale of the site might be about to be lifted.

Of course, it’s also possible the Commonwealth might announce that, with the changed geo-political situation Australia now faces, they want to construct new state-of-the-art accomodation facilities on the banks of the beautiful Derbarl Yerrigan river to better provide for the future accomodation of our country’s service men and women.

Inquiries of the Town of East Fremantle indicate that the Department of Defence, who control the site, are demolishing the old three storey apartment buildings within the site that are no longer considered fit for accommodation uses. It seems the Council is no more informed than that. Because it’s Commonwealth land, Defence aren’t required to obtain a demolition licence under State and local laws, like ordinary folk, and they didn’t ask permission on this occasion.

As we say, it’s not clear just what the Department of Defence has in mind for the site right now. The fact that right now they are knocking over buildings does make you wonder though, n’est-ce pas?

We look forward to hearing soon!

By Michael Barker, Editor, Fremantle Shipping News


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