Waterfront hotel must be fast tracked: Premier


Albany's peak business lobby group has warned the town’s waterfront will remain a vacant site indefinitely unless a number of contentious planning changes are allowed.

As submissions to the City of Albany over the proposed changes close today, the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the much-vaunted hotel development at the site was on the line.

The council and State Government-owned developer LandCorp want to change the waterfront’s planning framework by adding two more floors to the hotel short-stay site and sell a portion of the rooms to investors. They also want to increase the commercial site, taking it from two to three floors, with more parking.

ACCI chief executive Graham Harvey described the proposed changes as “minimal and necessary”, adding they had come after extensive consultation with developers about how to make the project viable. He implored the council, which will ultimately decide whether to endorse or reject the changes, to back developers and adopt the plan.

He said a failure to do so would leave the site to flounder and Albany without a major hotel development in time for Anzac Centenary commemorations in 2014.

“When LandCorp went to the market they had over 60 inquiries which only resulted in one very highly non-conforming expression of interest,” Mr Harvey said.

“What that process identified was that the current structure plan and precinct plan essentially make it completely uneconomically viable for a hotel to proceed.

“The reality is these changes have to be put in place because in order to get a hotel up and running before the commemoration of Anzac…construction will have to start in the first half of 2012.”

Last week, Premier Colin Barnett added his weight to calls for the waterfront hotel to be fast tracked, saying it was also crucial to the ongoing viability of the Albany Entertainment Centre.

Mr Barnett indicated the Government was prepared to make a number of concessions to help the project, including giving the land away for “little or no cost”.

Albany Waterfront Action Group’s former coordinator Shanti Bezard said she had not bothered to make a submission because authorities only “paid lip service” to opposing views.

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