The wave park proposed by Urbnsurf at Alfred Cove would have cost up to $30 million. (Supplied: Urbnsurf)
The developer behind a controversial wave park proposed for Perth’s Swan River has described being “blindsided” by a WA Government decision which threatens to leave the project dead in the water.
- Urbnsurf says it was only told about the land ruling yesterday afternoon
- The company says it does not have any other sites in mind for the wave park
- The WA Government says it can’t “justify locking future generations out of the space”
Urbnsurf wanted to build the facility at a cost of up to $30 million on parkland at the riverside suburb of Alfred Cove, south of Perth’s CBD.
The park would include waves ranging in size from 0.6-metre rolling, whitewater waves to 2.1-metre powerful, barrelling waves designed for high-level performance surfing.
But Lands Minister Ben Wyatt announced yesterday that a proposal by the City of Melville to utilise a portion of Crown land for the project had been rejected.
Urbnsurf founder and executive director Andrew Ross said he only found out via a phone call from Mr Wyatt yesterday afternoon.
“We have been progressing with this project for a number of years now and I think the reasoning that has been given, I don’t know that it makes a lot of sense to me,” he told ABC Radio Perth.
“They felt that the Crown land needed to remain available to the general public.
“[But] if you go down to Tompkins Park and have a look at that piece of Crown land — it is just a dusty, barren piece of land that no-one uses.
“We are deeply disappointed that we have put so much time and effort and money into this, to have it all sort of end at this point.”
Mr Ross said Perth was “screaming out” for the wave park.
“We need to have big, clever ideas about how to reinvigorate Perth,” he said.
“Perth has a wonderful climate, we have a huge surfing population of 80,000 people, but we do not have a dedicated surfing facility.”
Land needed for ‘future generations’: Wyatt
Urbnsurf had already overcome a court challenge lodged against the wave park and had received approval from the Environmental Protection Authority.
Lands Minister Ben Wyatt says the land must stay in community hands. (ABC News: Eliza Laschon)
The project was expected to cost between $26 million and $30 million, taking in 4.4 hectares of land and water.
But strong community opposition remained, with concerns about the environmental impact and a loss of access to the current bowls club and parklands situated nearby.
Mr Wyatt said although the Crown land parcel made up less than 10 per cent of the overall land required for the development, Urbnsurf had previously indicated that it was necessary for the project to proceed.
“While I admire the enthusiasm of the developers, we must remember that it is land owned by the community,” he said.
“Without local support it is impossible to justify locking future generations out of the space which was designated for public recreation and constant use.”
No other sites in mind, Urbnsurf says
Mr Ross said Urbnsurf had spent two years inspecting around 30 potential sites before it settled on the Tompkins Park location.
Urbnsurf wanted to build the artificial wave park on Tompkins Park in Alfred Cove. (Google Streetview)
He welcomed a Government offer to help Urbnsurf find an alternative location, but said he did not have any other sites in mind.
“I think our project would have fit in that location incredibly well, we have sign-off from the EPA on all environmental issues and we were dealing with all other concerns that people had,” he said.
“We need to be relatively centrally-located for the project to work commercially.
“With those constraints, there were very few sites that we were able to find that would be able to work. So we are hoping that collaborating with Government to try to find an appropriate site, maybe something we will pop up.
“I just hope the Government is truly dedicated and committed to helping us find an alternative site in Perth.”