Have say on SAS village review

THE public, former soldiers and Seaward Village residents can contribute to a Federal Government review of Defence Housing Australia’s (DHA) proposal to redevelop the SAS’s Seaward Village.

Announcing the review’s terms of reference last Thursday, Assistant Minister for Defence Darren Chester said the redevelopment and “appropriate” alternatives would be evaluated, along with the security risk of having civilian lots near the elite regiment, and any need for future restrictions on how village could be used, including the relevance of a current covenant over the land.

“This review will assist the Federal Government in ensuring all options have been considered in order to provide long-term housing at the agreed standard to members of the Australian Defence Force,” Mr Chester said.

The village houses about a quarter of the SAS Regiment based at the adjacent Campbell Barracks and their families.

However, DHA has claimed it is too expensive to refurbish the village’s 153 1990s-built homes, while soldiers and their families are worried that selling half the 22ha site for private housing would introduce civilians to the security-sensitive site.

Some Swanbourne residents want the village retained and no development encroaching on the neighbouring A-Class Allen Park bush in the future.

Premier and Cottesloe MLA Colin Barnett backed concerns about DHA’s proposal, before Curtin MHR Julie Bishop requested the review last month.

Australian SAS Association chairman Terry Nolan said the terms of reference were “encouraging”, but the review’s test would be whether there was adequate consultation.

“The decision to redevelop the village was a political one and at the end of the day a decision not to develop will also be a political one, and it’s hoped common sense will now prevail because ultimately the conclusion must be that Seaward Village is to remain an exclusively military housing area,” Mr Nolan said.

DHA acting-managing director Jan Mason said the defence force housing agency would co-operate fully with the terms of the review and other DHA developments in WA would no be affected by Seaward Village.

Retired Lieutenant-General Mark Evans will conduct the review, before it reports by February 29.