Swamp 1: Developers 0

The wait for the billion-dollar Waterbank-Riverside project by Development WA and Lendlease is expected to continue as the land remediation process remains a long and tough challenge for developers to overcome before they can begin building the residential complex with public parkland.

Since works began in 2013, the precinct has been challenged with building alongside an area of the Swan River prone to flooding. The main issue with developing the site has been beneath the surface, with high volumes of water in the soil making it difficult for safe construction to occur.

Curtin University engineering professor Mohamed Shahin said: “Building beside the river is more difficult than anywhere else because of the groundwater table. The water table actually will weaken the soil.

“Definitely it’s a matter of time and extra cost compared to the same building that would happen away from water.”

In 2013, a process known as surcharging began on the site which involves squeezing water out of the soil beneath the surface by using large amounts of sand.

This was due to be followed by the construction of the public open space, including footpaths and parks in late 2014.

However, little above ground construction has occurred other than the extension of Trinity Avenue to the river and a new road and bike path connection to the Causeway.

Fence around Waterbank
Waterbank lies next to Trinity College and the Causeway bridge. The site has appeared almost empty for a decade. Photo: Alex Govan.

A six-hectare project located along the eastern edge of Perth’s CBD, Waterbank was announced in November 2011 and was expected to create more than 440 jobs during construction, as well as providing 1000 residential dwellings for about 1500 residents.

Its first building, a $116 million 32-storey residential tower containing food and beverage outlets, retail shops, bars and restaurants was scheduled to start construction in 2017. Around the same time, the new road connecting Hay Street with the Swan River and a new river pier were also due to be complete.

So far, the road has been built but the apartment building and river pier are yet to begin construction.

Boardwalks, a man-made beach, public art, and parks for visitors to walk and ride through were a part of the planned development.

Artist's impression of Waterbank Precinct
Artist’s impression of the East Perth Waterbank Precinct. Photo: supplied by Lendlease WA

According to Lendlease, along with extensive works to the land, the site has been prepared for the installation of utilities which may include water, gas, electricity, waste disposal and sewerage.

WA general manager for development at Lendlease Anthony Rowbottam said: “Infrastructure and public domain civil works are ongoing to enable the future construction of Waterbank’s buildings, roads, footpaths and parkland.

“We’re working closely with our government partners to finalise design and planning and look forward to bringing the Waterbank precinct to life.”

Waterbank was scheduled to be completed by 2026.

WA Minister for Planning Rita Saffioti was contacted but declined to comment on the project.