Controversial $140m village backed by Kalgoorlie-Boulder council amid plans to revisit sale of land with Aboriginal heritage site

Controversial $140m village backed by Kalgoorlie-Boulder council amid plans to revisit sale of land with Aboriginal heritage site
  • PublishedDecember 20, 2023

Two controversial plans to ease housing shortages in Western Australia’s mining heartland, including a $140 million lifestyle village for “essential workers” that attracted 82 objections, are a step closer after winning the support of City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder councillors.

The lifestyle village, which could see up to 100 new modular homes built in the first stage over 18 months, comes amid estimates that Kalgoorlie-Boulder needs up to 4,000 new dwellings over the next decade.

With more than 2000 job vacancies being advertised in the region, the mining city is also grappling with an immediate shortfall of 168 properties.   

Councillors voted 6-1 at Monday night’s ordinary council meeting to support the Rowe Group project on a 16-hectare site off Hart Kerspian Drive, which would comprise 397 new modular dwellings. 

The final say belongs to the state government’s Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP), with new planning reforms requiring projects above $7 million to be assessed. 

Eighty-two objections, out of 89 public submissions, included concerns the village would promote fly-in, fly-out work practices, offer a lower standard of living than traditional houses, property values would fall and higher traffic volumes. 

A design for a proposed new sub-division in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
Plans for the proposed lifestyle village. (Supplied: City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder)

Concerns over traffic flow

Mayor Glenn Wilson is hopeful the lifestyle village will make a significant dent in accommodation shortages.  

“We are constantly pushed as councillors to look at housing,” he said. 

“This is an opportunity to progress something quickly, and while the lifestyle village may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it allows more people to come into our city and fill roles which are currently fly-in, fly-out. 

“We are looking at hospital staff, police officers, education staff … it’s going to be a lot quicker than bricks and mortar.” 

A man standing at a council meeting wearing his mayoral chains.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mayor Glenn Wilson. (ABC Goldfields: Jarrod Lucas)

Councillor Nardia Turner was the lone voice against the development, raising concerns about traffic volumes. 

“I can’t remember having this many submissions against something while I’ve been a councillor,” she said. 

A woman standing in front of an historic building.
Councillor Nardia Turner voted against the lifestyle village.   (ABC Goldfields: Jarrod Lucas)

Councillor Kyran O’Donnell, a former police officer and State MP, said he was concerned Kalgoorlie-Boulder could see roles which have traditionally been residentially-based become FIFO.  

“I spoke to high-ranking police in the north-west and they’re flying in police because there’s no housing up there,” he said. 

“We don’t want to have that here … we need it [more housing] but we’re not ignoring those residents’ concerns.” 

Land sale back on agenda

Councillors also voted unanimously at Monday’s meeting to begin public consultation for the sale of two parcels of land in Broadwood, covering a combined 36 hectares, including a registered Aboriginal heritage site.

Elected members previously voted 7-5 in April 2022 against the sale of the land to developers M Group, which would have netted the city more than $9 million. 

The heritage site, known as Gubrun Camp, was outside of local municipal boundaries established during the 1890s gold rush, when Aboriginal people were not allowed within the townsite after sunset.  

Local elder Brian Champion Senior has said it was used by the Kalamaya Gubrun people as a camping area until the mid-1960s.  

Any future development would require approval from the Aboriginal Affairs Minister.  

Aboriginal elder wearing a black at and jacket standing in a bush block
Brian Champion Senior has been strongly opposed to the sale of land which contains a registered Aboriginal heritage site.   (ABC Goldfields-Esperance: Giulia Bertoglio)

During public question time at Monday’s meeting Mark Champion told councillors his father Brian Champion Senior is the “only surviving knowledge holder” for the heritage site.  

“A previous proposal to sell the land was defeated because my father spoke out,” he said. 

“It is deeply disappointing that council is now trying to revisit the matter. 

“My father strongly opposes any development of this land, other than recognising its cultural significant to Aboriginal people.” 

He told the meeting any property developer would need to consult with the Marlinyu Ghoorli native title claimants, who have been progressing through the Federal Court since 2017, but are yet to have a formal determination of native title.  

Court documents, via the National Native Title Tribunal, list Mr Champion Senior as the lead applicant for the native title claim.  

Monday’s council vote included a proposal to quarantine up to 5 per cent of any land sale towards the preservation of Aboriginal cultural heritage on the Broadwood site.   

Councillor Terrence Winner said it could be as high as $1 million depending on the sale price.  

The push for additional housing comes as the City’s director of development and growth Alex Wiese reported to council that Kalgoorlie-Boulder has a current undersupply of at least 168 dwellings. 

He said more than 2,000 jobs are currently being advertised in the region, and there is demand for up to 4,000 new dwellings over the next 5 to 10 years.  


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