State government squashes shire’s DFES academy hopes

State government squashes shire’s DFES academy hopes

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The now redundant master plan drawn up by the shire for Lot 500 Lampiter Drive.

Hopes to accommodate the new DFES Emergency Training Academy in Mardella have been extinguished.

The then McGowan Government committed over $2 million in 2020 to draw up a business case for a new training academy and find a suitable site to replace the aging Forrestfield facility, which was built in the 80s.

Last year, the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale drew up a draft master plan for council-owned land along Lampiter Drive, commonly known as Webb Reserve.

Alongside the new state government emergency training academy, the plan indicated the site’s capacity to also accommodate a new works depot, and pound and waste facilities for the shire.

There would have been further space in the 50.8ha site for a Mundijong Emergency Services precinct, housing the bushfire brigade, SES, and an Incident Control Centre.

Of course, the master plan was always contingent on whether the state government was interested in building the DFES training academy there.

At its August ‘23 meeting, council voted to put the plan in front of the minister before advertising it for public comment.

But in December the Minister for Emergency Services Stephen Dawson threw water on the shire’s aspirations when he sent ‘formal correspondence’ expressing Lot 500 Lampiter Drive would no longer be considered as a ‘preferred site’ for the academy.

“The decision was based on several factors including its proximity to Perth airport, integration with other emergency services facilities and limited public transport and accommodation options,” a DFES spokesperson explained.

So now the big question is what the shire will do with the Mardella land it acquired from the state government in 2019.

A motion was brought to the first council meeting for the year on Monday.

In it, shire officers recommended council seek to rezone the land from ‘parks and recreation’ reserve to rural.

This would allow the land – which will eventually be metres from the Tonkin Highway Extension – to be subdivided into rural residential lots.

Councillor Tricia Duggin moved the issue be deferred for discussion at a future planning concept forum, which was unanimously agreed to.