City of Swan open to talking about potential Showground switch, but no approaches yet

Claremont Showground.
Claremont Showground.

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THE City of Swan is open to talking but cautious about Claremont Mayor Jock Barker’s idea to move the Royal Agricultural Society’s (RAS) show from his town to the Swan Valley.

Swan deputy mayor Kevin Bailey said his city was “always” prepared to look at any initiative that brings “value and opportunity”, but there would be “much to discuss” before any relocation.

“Any consideration of the relocation of the showground to the Swan Valley would have to be cognisant of the Swan Valley Planning Act and the availability of Government-owned land for the project,” Mr Bailey said.

Swan chief executive Mike Foley said the council was open to meeting with Claremont Council and the State Government, but there had not even been any approaches from either about the idea.

Last week Mr Barker voiced a long-held view in his town that the RAS could resolve a $4.4 million loss over three years, with ash reserves dropping from $8.7 to $3.8m since 2013-14, and falling crowds, by following the example of NSW moving its showgrounds out of Sydney CBD.

WA speedway also successfully moved from Claremont to Kwinana, and sport has shifted from Subiaco Oval to the Perth Stadium.

Mr Barker claimed redeveloping the 30ha showground could potentially generate about $200m for the RAS, and $1b for the Government to pay debt or the Ellenbrook railway line,

He said the move would give the Swan Valley a 21st- century venue, and previous Labor governments had a “great track record” of working with western suburbs’ councils on projects such as his town’s north-east precinct and the Minim Cove development in Mosman Park.

“The RAS itself has recognised the showground’s potential by proposing a smaller redevelopment plan, but all I’m saying is there is a greater opportunity, including jobs and promotion of businesses and tourism in the Swan Valley,” Mr Barker said

The RAS is still waiting for a Government reply to that two-year-old plan including short-stays, research facilities and markets, and an RAS spokeswoman said it would not reply to Mr Barker because of alleged, but undisclosed, “flaws” in his information.

In December, Premier Mark McGowan and Planning Minister Rita Saffioti met with the RAS, before Ms Saffioti suggested the society talk with adjacent Claremont on the Park developers, but she did not reply when asked when it would decide on the RAS’ proposals.

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