320 Defence staff to relocate to Irwin Barracks as Leeuwin Barracks is readied for sale

Irwin Barracks will require a $175 million upgrade to handle the influx.
Irwin Barracks will require a $175 million upgrade to handle the influx.

A REINFORCEMENT of up to 320 Department of Defence (DoD) soldiers, sailors and civilian contractors will be sent to Karrakatta’s Irwin Barracks after the expected $100 million sale of Leeuwin Barracks in East Fremantle starts later this year.

Irwin Barracks currently hosts reserve units including the 16th Battalion and the 10th Light Horse.

To take the influx from across the river, the site will need a $175m upgrade for the serving military, their trainers, DoD support staff and civilians, inlcuding counsellors and public relations people currently at the 14ha Leeuwin site.

East Fremantle Mayor Jim O’Neil said the Department of Defence would determine when and how the sale goes ahead.

“When they start moving them is up to the department to decide, and also which way the sale goes, whether they want to take on Leeuwin redevelopment’s rezoning, or whether it’s sold in parcels or as whole,” Mr O’Neil told the Western Suburbs Weekly.

His council, with residents’ and DoD participation, recently completed a “vision” concept for the Leeuwin site on the Swan River.

The concept creates 1400 to 1500 units, in about 25 blocks, ranging from two to 15 storeys in height.

It would also include a tribute to young navy recruits who were abused at the base.

Mr O’Neil said the vision could change in another three to four years of concept planning, after which it could take 25 years to complete the redevelopment of the riverside site.

A Department of Defence spokeswoman said new facilities at Irwin would include offices, training facilities and spaces, and storage to relocate 200 ADF members and 120 contractors by 2022-23.

The spokeswoman said there were no current plans for ADF or private residential housing at Irwin, and no parts of the barracks would be sold to pay for the upgrade.

She said Federal Government spending approval for the upgrade was not dependent on money from the sale of Leeuwin Barracks.

Last year, Curtin MHR Julie Bishop asked the Government to consider using part of the sale to help pay for a $46m refurbishment of the SAS’s residential Seaward Village in Swanbourne, 3km west of Irwin.

Canberra’s Standing Committee on Public Works will re-examine the refurbishment later this month, but a committee spokesman said a referral from the House of Representatives or Senate would be needed for any Irwin upgrade to be considered.