Port and Leighton beaches have been treasured for generations by beach-goers from a wide section of the Perth Metropolitan area as safe family beaches. The northern end of Leighton Beach is a very heavily used dog beach. Behind the dunes, the Leighton Marshalling Yards is a narrow strip of Westrail land between Port Beach Road and the passenger rail line, from North Fremantle railway station, north to the Montessori School.

Redevelopment of Leighton Marshalling Yards was first mooted by State government in the late 1980s. In 1994 the State Government released the Fremantle Regional Strategy (FRS). This strategy was meant to include a comprehensive land use review of the Leighton peninsula but did not include any assessment of coastal requirements.. The FRS recommended that the marshalling yards and Port Beach Road be rezoned to "Urban" in the Metropolitan Region Scheme. This rezoning occurred in 1997 and a range of landuses are therefore allowed on the site, including residential, commercial and open space, while the site remains zoned "Urban".

In mid 1998 the government rail authority Westrail, with the approval of Cabinet, announced its intention to sell the land by tender and enter into a joint venture with the buyer. In late 1998 Westrail advertised nationally and internationally for tenderers. In February 1999 six consortia submitted development proposals to Westrail. In May 1999, Westrail decided on the successful tender, as the consortium comprising Multiplex Constructions, Satterley, and Rockingham Park.

Up until the developer's plan was released (17 September 1999) there was no meaningful community consultation. The community was given until 29 November 1999 to comment on this plan. A total of 425 submissions were received, only 5% of which were supportive of the draft concept plan. The developers produced a revised concept plan on 18 January 2000.

After the huge rally in November 1999, and hard lobbying by LAC members, politicians finally took notice. On 7 February 2000, State Cabinet announced that new planning guidelines would be developed for the site. These would include how far development should be set back from the beach, public open space, carpark facilities and transport issues.

The Government planning guidelines.

Government's draft guidelines were released for public comment during October 2000. In summary, the guidelines proposed that all of the central and northern parts of the site would be reserved for "Parks and Recreation". In the southern part it was considered that 4 hectares were surplus to environmental and recreational requirements and could be used for urban/commercial development. This contrasted with LAC's position that only 2.2 hectares are surplus to these needs. For more information see the October 2000 Newsletter.

Over 1800 submissions were sent to the Ministry for Planning. Only 4% supported the Ministry's position of 4 hectares of development. 46% supported LAC's proposal for 2.2 hectares being surplus to coastal requirements, and 50% wanted the whole site to be set aside as parkland. Clearly the community message was that the development area should be reduced to less than 4 hectares. The Ministry was to have taken into account the community submissions when reviewing the guidelines.

On 18 December 2000, Cabinet endorsed the Ministry for Planning's revised guidelines for Leighton beach and the marshalling yards. The area to be redeveloped will be 4 hectares (at the southern end), with the rest to be Parks and Recreation reserve. Within the 4 hectare development there will be 'at least 25%' open space, including provision for local roads. There are a number of State and local government statutory processes to be completed before the coastal rehabilitation and urban development can proceed.

There are still many issues relating to constraints of the site (contaminated land, industrial buffer, road planning etc) which are to be resolved and which have funding implications for the final rehabilitation of the site. The Department for Planning and Infrastructure is currently producing a brief for consultants to determine "the decontamination and rehabilitation" requirements for the Parks and Recreation reserve, including the current coastal reserve and the additional 13 hectares (still to be rezoned to "Parks and Recreation"). A revised Structure Plan for the 4ha development area is available for public comment by 17 November 2003 (see current issues page).

For further information on the Government position, see the Ministry for Planning website.

LAC's assessment of environmental and recreational needs of the coastal zone.

LAC wrote detailed submissions on coastal and transport planning issues to Government in June 2000. Read the documents here. (Coastal Planning, Transport Planning).

What will LAC do now?

The Leighton Action Coalition will continue to work for the right outcome at Leighton Beach. There is still considerable work to be done to ensure that the land is rezoned to "Parks and Recreation", and rehabilitated appropriately. The community has fought hard for this result and must retain ownership of their beach by being involved in creating the coastal reserve. Government must be lobbied to provide adequate funding for the rehabilitation of this regionally important resource.

Leighton Action Coalition Inc.
C/- 34A Holland Street
Fremantle WA 6160
Tel: 9335 5182

Email: info@saveleighton.org.au (Susan Harrington, LAC spokesperson)