The City of Gosnells had denied its approach to the Lissiman Street Improvement Plan [LSIP} was fatally flawed, despite it being on hold after attracting just one expression of interest for purchase or joint venture – an interest that was subsequently withdrawn.
Now there is the possibility the City may cut its losses and sell the land it acquired for the project.
In the City’s Major Projects Progress Report 2021/2022, presented to council last month, the LSIP is the only project of the 26 listed to have been placed on hold.
City Chief Executive Ian Cowie said the improvement plan was in line with Western Australian Planning Commission guidelines.
“Improvement plans are used to guide the development of land in areas identified by the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) as requiring special planning,” he said.
“In this situation the plan is to encourage redevelopment of the Gosnells Town Centre with a specific focus on the area between Lissiman Street and Albany Highway, and provide the City with an opportunity to acquire landholdings and undertake development.”
The City prioritised the acquisition of landholdings in close proximity to Main Street, acquiring five lots – one through a compulsory acquisition – at a total cost of $2.93 million.
Things fell apart for the LSIP when the City called for expressions of interest for purchase or joint venture between December 16, 2020 and February 22, 2021.
The process attracted just a single submission, and that submission was withdrawn on April 12, 2021.
While the City did not develop a business plan prior to advertising the EOI, Mr Cowie maintains this was not something the City was required to do.
“Concept plans have been developed throughout the course of the Lissiman Street Improvement Plan project,” he said.
“Each concept plan has been subjected to a rigorous financial feasibility planning process.
“Broad financial estimates have been prepared for various development concepts.
“A full financial model will be produced to support the final development scenario.
“Under the Local Government Functions and General Regulations, a formal business plan is only required if the land transaction is worth more than $10 million for the City of Gosnells.”
He confirmed none of the concept plans had officially been put before the council, with several concept plans for development being presented to councillors at workshops.
“The initial concept plan, the LSIP Visioning Document, is available on the City’s website.
“The imagery was also used in billboard advertising on Albany Highway in 2015 and on the side of the Golden Castle Chinese restaurant from 2015 until its demolition last year.”
With the project on hold for the foreseeable future, Mr Cowie said it was necessary for the City to remain open to three possibilities.
Either the City undertakes the redevelopment, or it enters into a joint venture with a third party to facilitate the redevelopment of this key strategic mixed-use site.
The other option is for the City to sell the site that it used ratepayer funds to acquire in the first place.
“This is a prudent and appropriate approach to take that ensures the City is prioritising the management and mitigation of its risk exposure,” Mr Cowie said.
“The project is listed as ‘on hold’ as the EOI process failed to identify a private sector developer and the construction sector is currently extremely buoyant, meaning that the costs of any construction project are likely to be high.
“[How long it is on hold] is likely to depend on the buoyancy of the construction market.”