By Emma Young
April 4, 2019
Big national and global companies have dashed to secure space in Perth’s newest industrial zone, which will provide not just jobs but also a crucial rail freight link between Roe Highway and Fremantle port.
Its opening has not only placed crucial pieces into the state government’s urban planning jigsaw, but also helped with its politically prickly problems of road capacity around Fremantle port.
Industrial-zoned land in central Perth is valuable not just for industry but for jobs: the existing central zones including Canning Vale, Myaree, Ashfield and Kewdale/Welshpool provide well over 100,000 jobs, the highest number in the region outside the Perth and West Perth CBDs.
But there’s very limited land available in the central sub-region to cater for industrial growth, with most of those centres nearing capacity.
The government’s Perth and Peel planning frameworks conceded most new industrial parks would have to be located on the urban fringes. Most inner-city land had to be earmarked for houses as inner-city land got more and more valuable and urban density increased.
So at 56 hectares, the newly opened Roe Highway Logistics Park in Kenwick is a big addition to the inner sub-region’s industrial capacity, and is being sold as the best-connected industrial estate to open in Perth for more than a decade.
The development consortium features heavyweight business names such as Linc Property, WA’s largest private industrial land developer; Adrian Fini’s Perth-based private investment company Fini Group; Minderoo Group, the philanthropic and private business holdings of Andrew and Nicola Forrest; and warehouse leasing specialist Gibb Group.
They are boasting the park’s proximity to the established Kewdale/Welshpool area, the city and airport, its location on the corner of major arterial roads Roe Highway and Welshpool Road East, and the two access points it has for road trains, from two major highways.
Most crucially, they are boasting its connection to the planned Kenwick Intermodal Terminal at Kenwick Rail Freight Facility, to be completed by the end of 2020, which will give tenants of the industrial park a direct rail link to Fremantle Port’s North Quay.
Terminal planner Arc Infrastructure said this would make deliveries cheaper and faster and support the government’s policy of increasing rail freight through North Quay; chief executive Paul Larsen said it would serve as an “inland port”, with a huge container storage capacity.
Transport and Planning Minister Rita Saffioti attending the opening
The presence of Transport Minister Rita Saffioti at the park’s opening further underlined its strategic importance, given the government justified dumping the controversial Roe 8 highway extension by promising alternative measures to relieve congestion around Fremantle, including Westport Taskforce and the circa-$100 million High Street upgrade as well as increased rail freight subsidies.
The lure of accessing container freight via rail has already led to prominent players signing up to move in and take advantage of both the operational efficiencies and the bonus subsidies.
Confirmed tenants include national freight and logistics group Northline, national pump products company Dyna Pumps, freight forwarding business K-Trans WA, fuel giant BP (developing a fuel station and truck stop), international software supplier Brady Corporation, international oil and gas services business Expro Group and mining and transport components supplier FUWA K-Hitch.
Developers are currently finalising the commitment of a further 9 hectares with another national and one global company.
Most of the site will be leased, though Linc is selling a small portion to accommodate owner-occupiers, with two local companies already committed to buying in.
The developers are also securing commitments from food and beverage tenants to service the estate, which they expect to be full within a year.
The estate will also contain landscaped public open space, public art and entry statements and “substantial street trees”.
Inside the estate.
Linc Property development director Judd Dyer said in a statement that established industrial precincts tended to be old, tired and problematic for modern warehousing requirements, with poor quality open space and limited food services.
“We have typically seen absorption of around 10-20 hectares per annum in our other estates and are very pleased with take-up to date,” he said.
Linc has driven the development and planning of the estate, a complex and at times controversial process as over several years, it acquired and amalgamated more than 30 parcels of land, went through the tricky rezoning process, then completed structure planning and subdivision.
It copped heat from environmental groups due to the land’s proximity to the Greater Brixton Street Wetlands, regarded as the most biodiverse site remaining in Perth. The site also contained a stand of trees that had previously been recorded as a potentially regionally significant roosting site for the endangered forest red-tailed black cockatoo.
The Save the Brixton Street Wetlands Alliance campaigned to save this stand of trees and held numerous protests at the site itself, the City of Gosnells, the Environmental Protection Authority, Yagan Square and even at Linc’s Subiaco offices.
But Linc says it has managed and will continue to manage environmental concerns with a detailed conservation strategy to conserve three-quarters of the roosting site, and further extensive tree planting in the area that they say will lead to an overall eventual increase in foraging and roosting habitat.
The strategy also includes “best practice” storm water management, onsite treatment and recycling of waste water and several solar energy initiatives, Linc has said.
The park is one precinct within a wider industrial development set to surround the Brixton Street Wetlands: the Maddington-Kenwick Strategic Employment Area.
The area is being rezoned precinct by precinct, with the Greater Brixton Street Wetlands to be eventually fully enclosed by industrial development.
The EPA has announced a decision to hold a public assessment of two of the rezoning proposals.