A Subiaco community leader said the suburb could become a ghetto as plans to demolish and redevelop Subiaco Oval and Princess Margaret Hospital threaten to push even more businesses out of the area.
Plans for LandCorp’s “Subi East” redevelopment took another step forward this week when local company R.J. Vincent and Co was tasked with the demolition of Subiaco Oval, set to get underway in July this year.
The sports stadium and vacant PMH will make way for the proposed high-density urban community in an attempt to gentrify the ageing, now barely used area.
But Subiaco Community Association Treasurer Chantelle O’Sullivan said the potentially decade-long development process could destroy the already suffering suburb.
“This end of Subiaco is absolutely dying anyway,” she said.
“It should improve with a higher population density that would return with the redevelopment, but that could be 10-12 years away.
“The concern is in the meantime the diversity and businesses will die and we will end up with a ghetto, an antisocial behavioural situation here.
“What we are hoping for is not an awful 1970’s style high density disaster, instead more of the integration of clever design, architecture and open space that has connectivity that weaves through it.”
Western Suburbs Business Association President Mark Hann said the benefits of gentrifying Subiaco will outweigh the threat to the suburb’s remaining businesses.
“Given we had the interest of local business at heart, we would see anything that increases the traffic into the precinct as a positive thing,” Mr Hann said.
“By virtue of where the business precinct operates, it’s largely on the Hay Street side of the corridor, and I would suggest the interruption to business services and offerings is not significant as far as I would guess.
“In terms of the way the sites are located perhaps a little away from the main business precinct I would envisage the interruption to small business would be insignificant.”
But with Subiaco losing the foot traffic generated from football, hospital workers and visitors in the last few years, Ms O’Sullivan says work needs to be done to ensure the business ecosystem of the suburb survives the upcoming period of mass-development.
“LandCorp and the City of Subiaco need to look at what they can do from a place activation point of view to entice business to come back to Subiaco over the next five years, because that’s the reality of how long the development and sales will take,” she said.
“Redevelopment is one thing, but what do you do in the meantime to make sure the area will support the public infrastructure you just committed to putting in place?”