Seaward Village review finds maintenance of homes lapsed before proposal to redevelop village

Seaward Village review finds maintenance of homes lapsed before proposal to redevelop village

A FEDERAL Government review was told maintenance of SAS soldiers’ homes lapsed before a proposal to redevelop the houses at Seaward Village in Swanbourne.

“The current level of maintenance of the homes is poor, and some believe Defence Housing Australia has allowed the houses to degrade by doing minimal maintenance,” a report stated about public comments to a review of the redevelopment by Lieutenant-General Mark Evans.

DHA proposed to use half the 22ha village for 140 civilian lots and 165 new soldiers’ homes in a high-density precinct on the remaining land, but community-based opposition for 22 months caused the proposal to be cancelled for a revamp of the village instead last month.

The report found many of the homes did not reach Defence Force standards and said the redevelopment “appears to have been driven by a desire to apply the DHA business model”.

“There appears to have been a reluctance to invest in improving the village to any great extent, indicated by the cessation of a refurbishment program that was underway in 2012,” the report said.

There was no finding about the level of maintenance in the two years between the refurbishment stopping and the Department of Defence agreeing to the redevelopment in 2014.

“The added attraction for Defence was the costs and risks (of redevelopment) would largely be borne by DHA,” the report said.

It also found there was no detailed analysis of the homes’ conditions before redevelopment was presented to Defence.

“But many are still sceptical that DHA didn’t fulfil its obligations and let the houses go downhill so they could justify them being bulldozed,” Swanbourne Coastal Alliance convenor Jean-Paul Orsini said.

DHA acting managing director Jan Mason said DHA did village maintenance “as requested by residents”, resulting in spending 146 per cent more than that done on other soldiers’ home in Perth in the past five years.

Ms Mason said the 2015 Housing Survey had questions of a “general nature” because it collected information across Perth, not just Seaward Village.

She said DHA would abide if the Government put it back under the oversight of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.

Assistant Minister for Defence Michael McCormack said there were no plans to change DHA’s operating model.