Subiaco – Life after AFL

Subiaco Oval has been an icon in the Town of Subiaco for many years and with the opening of the new Perth Stadium at Burswood in 2018 it will be the end of an era for the home of AFL in Western Australia.

With the AFL moving to the new Perth Stadium for the 2018 season, Subiaco Oval will no longer attract the thousands of footy fans each week to the area throughout the season. It also leaves a significant blank canvas, in a prime location, available for redevelopment. The state government recently announced intended plans for the Subiaco site, including a new secondary school, mixed use and residential housing.

The new precinct will encompass the existing Subiaco Oval, neighboring Kitchener Park, Princess Margaret Hospital and some Department of Housing land.

The redevelopment plans have the potential to provide much needed housing within close proximity to the Perth CBD. The new residences will benefit from ease of access to the city and Fremantle via the train station which is in close walking distance to the site. The new school is also a much-needed aspect to the redevelopment plan, given the shortage of public secondary school spaces in the western suburbs and inner city.

The new housing also has the potential to bring more people into the Town of Subiaco, where local businesses have suffered in recent years due to less people visiting the area along with reportedly high rents and a lack of affordable parking for customers adding to the challenges. An Activity Centre Options report produced by Hassel for the City of Subiaco some years ago, outlined the need for at least 35 dwellings per hectare in the town centre to attract enough people to live and recreate in the area in order to provide long term viability and sustainability to the precinct. That sort of dwelling target will be closer to attainment if redevelopment of the oval precinct goes ahead.

Subiaco Oval is not the first footy oval to be slated for redevelopment into housing and mixed use once the AFL has vacated to newer facilities. There are several successful examples of football precinct redevelopments that have changed the face of their local areas and attracted a raft of new residents. Football Park in Adelaide is currently undergoing a transformation after AFL games were moved to Adelaide Oval in 2014.

The site was sold to Commercial & General Group and while the Adelaide Crows clubrooms and training facilities remain, the rest of the site is currently undergoing a major redevelopment that will eventually include 1600 new home sites.

The project, known as WEST, is a masterplanned community including a mix of residential and retail development slated for completion in 2027 and valued at $1 billion.

The site is an excellent example of the scale of public open space, sporting and other facilities that can be made available utilising land on and around the former football oval.

There is also the capacity to provide a range of housing types from single homes through to high density apartment living given the extensive transport networks and other facilities already in place.

Waverly Park in Melbourne is another successful example. In this case part of the historic stadium and playing field was heritage listed and formed the centrepeice of the development.

The stadium itself now houses retail outlets including a café and supermarket and Hawthorn Football Club continues to train on site in upgraded facilities.

Residential property at Waverly Park has proved very popular with buyers and the final stage of this development will be released soon.
Closer to home, Claremont Football Oval is now home to several boutique apartment buildings around the perimeter and overlooking the oval. The Claremont Football club continues to call the oval home as well as incorporating facilities that are open to the surrounding community. Again, the higher density housing is successful in this area due to the proximity of an existing train station along with established retail and hospitality precincts, similar to Subiaco.

The site has attracted consistent sales despite the downturn in the broader Perth market.

Overall, these examples show that with the right planning and mix of residential and commercial enterprise, sporting stadiums can provide a successful canvas for urban redevelopment that has the potential to add value to the surrounding community.

The redevelopment of Subiaco Oval could lift surrounding home values and attract more buyers to the area, particularly given the new school site and planned public open space along with the proximity to existing transport and services.

This redevelopment will also be an important step forward in continuing to reach the higher density targets that the state government has set for inner and middle ring existing suburbs to boost Perth’s housing supply while limiting urban sprawl.

In the more immediate term, the redevelopment project will be an investment opportunity as private industry will be called on to participate in the delivery of both residential and commercial precincts. This will also provide a much-needed boost to the broader WA economy in terms of boosting employment, construction activity and demand for materials.