The new heart of Midland

Artist’s impression of the first development for Midland Oval
Artist’s impression of the first development for Midland Oval

THE Midland Oval Redevelopment Masterplan, dubbed the future heart of Midland, was adopted by the City of Swan council last week.

Support for the plan is a milestone for the council, which has considered redevelopment of the oval for nearly 50 years.

The plan for the 14ha area proposes a range of mixed use buildings up to 12 storeys, an event space, piazza and retention of 13 per cent public open space.

A key amendment included a commitment to further consultation regarding the public open space design, a significant concern for locals.

The adoption of the masterplan opens the door to development applications for the new precinct.

Midland-Guildford Ward councillor Mark Elliott said the plan was the start of a “journey towards a bigger, better heart of Midland”.

In a heartfelt speech to the chamber, Cr Elliott said one of the reasons he wanted to be on council was because he wanted to make Midland a better place to live.

“I grew weary of those outside of town that looked sneeringly at Midland and regretted what was almost a cultural cringe suffered by some locals as a result,” he said. “This will be unlike anything we, or the outsiders, have seen before.

“It’ll be better and it’ll be ours.”

Cr Elliott urged councillors to “kill the cringe” and vote in favour of passing the plan, which 11 of the 15 councillors did.

Swan Chamber of Commerce vice president Graham Harris welcomed the decision.

“With the hospital, the underpass, the workshops all going ahead, this had to be done,” he said. “What we’re talking about is Midland as a regional centre where the whole thirsty Wheatbelt comes in, we’re not talking about a shire with a shopping centre.”

Mr Harris said Midland would be the largest regional centre in the state.

The first development for the Midland Oval precinct will be on lot 4 The Avenue, towards the south-east corner of the development area.

The City of Swan has entered a business agreement with buyer De Mol Group of Companies Pty Ltd, which will enable development to proceed on the $4.5 million parcel of land very soon.

Despite the breakthrough vote last week, the road to City of Swan’s grand vision has not been a straightforward process.

Swan was criticised for its transparency during the land acquisition phase, with many long-term residents of the area unaware of the plans for their own back yards until reading the newspaper.

The City acquired some $20 million worth of private property in the Midland Oval precinct before it announced its intentions for the area in May this year.

Some older residents face the prospect of moving house.

Others said they were upset with how they went about the land acquisitions.

Once the bold plans were revealed, more concerns regarding the loss of public open space also surfaced.

To address that concern, Cr Elliott’s motion called for more public consultation on public open space when the matter gets to the high-level design phase.

Fellow Midland-Guildford Ward councillor Ian Johnson voted against the plan’s adoption because he believed public open space was lacking.

“No other cities are building on their ovals so why should we,” Cr Johnson said.

Cr Johnson said the revitalisation of Midland could be achieved in conjunction with retaining more open space.

The next step of the oval redevelopment involves preparing civil works designs and local planning scheme provisions that align with the vision for the area. The City has also flagged the possibility of more land acquisitions.