CLAREMONT Mayor Jock Barker says an opportunity will be missed if current talks do not lead to the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) and State Government moving the Claremont Showground to a new Swan Valley facility.
“I’m suggesting they each sell their land at the showgrounds, possibly generating several hundred million for the RAS and up to $1 billion for the Government, and a purpose-built facility in the valley brings jobs where they are needed, local businesses get promoted, all of Perth gets a modern showgrounds and a farming platform for the 21st century,” Mr Barker said.
The Government is currently in talks about an alternative two-year-old RAS plan to partially develop the 30ha showgrounds but there are no current plans for a relocation after the Government met with the RAS in December.
Last week, it was revealed RAS cash reserves had halved to $3.8 million in two years, after Perth Royal Shows affected by weather and uncertain crowd numbers leaving the partial redevelopment as one of any potential saviours.
However, Mr Barker said there was a greater opportunity that could potentially pay for the Ellenbrook rail line or retire some State debt if WA followed NSW, which successfully moved its royal show from near Sydney’s CBD to Homebush Bay closer to suburban populations.
His estimates indicated that the RAS could get about $200 million and the Government about $1 billion if they developed the showgrounds, if $1 million a block was sustained .
Claremont council, which lobbied the Government last year, estimated the RAS had 7.7ha freehold and the Government the remainder, but Mr Barker denied his plan was a rates grab if the showgrounds were developed like adjacent Claremont on the Park.
“I actually care about the RAS because we have kids on the farm, but I know of farmers who haven’t visited the show for years,” he said.
He said a deal could also offer the RAS several years’ rates from any redevelopment.
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said the Government was still consulting about the showgrounds and had discussions “briefly” with Mr Barker.
The Government will work with the RAS and the council about development options.
Ms Saffioti suggested the RAS meet with Landcorp to discuss any plans because the showgrounds was close to Claremont on the Park.
RAS president Paul Carter did not respond to questions.