Stab Magazine | Resolved: The People Versus Perth's First Wave Pool

Resolved: The People Versus Perth’s First Wave Pool

Supreme Court rules in favour of artificial wave developers.

news // Jul 20, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Wavepool here, wavepool there, soon there’ll be wavepools fucking everywhere. But hey, we ain’t complaining!

For those of us who call certain people ‘bogans’ instead of ‘rednecks’ and call sand ‘banks’ instead of ‘sandbars’ there’s not a whole lot on offer on the artificial wave front. Our themeparks have ‘floriders’ that blast tonnes of water up the face over a slanted plastic bottom, or those ‘wave pools’ that pulse non-breakking ankle biters into artificially floated tourists, but right now, we don’t have a single proper wavepool.

Hell, getting your mate to push a bodyboard up and down in your bathtub is the closest we’ve got a functioning artificial wave right now. 

Yes they’re sterile to watch, yes your likely sick of hearing about them, but for us Australians, the prospect of having a pool is exciting. 

Melbourne is nearly sorted, Sydney isn’t far behind, north-west Queensland has an Occy pool in the pipeline and now Perth’s taken another step closer to breaking earth, although that wasn’t without a legal hurdle. 

In April of last year, URBNSURF (the most prominent wavepool company in Aus) purchased a 30 year lease on a 4.4 hectare block of land in Tompkins Park on the Swan River; land which sits a short 9km south from the centre of Perth’s city. 

The Swan Foreshore Protection Agency (SFPA) argued that the lease agreement signed by URBNSURF under the title, Wave Park Group was invalid due to some small, and inevitably inconsequential technical issues – plus the fact that the wavepool will block off access to the local bowls club!

SFPA is mostly comprised of locals – who apparently hate wavepools and fun – who were upset that the local council didn’t appropriately advertise what Wave Park Group was intending to do with the leased land; you would assume that the name ‘Wave Park Group’ would be enough indication of their agenda, but apparently not. 

The council had placed information in a local newspaper outlining Wave Park Group’s plans, but the SFPA argued this was insufficient since it didn’t allow people enough time to lodge submissions and concerns. As Shayne Silcox, City of Melville chief executive pointed out though, “The lease agreement is transparent and represents no cost or financial risk to the City of Melville and has been available on the City of Melville website for many months,” leaving the plaintiff with little argument to stand upon. 

Additionally, SFPA’s other concerns were that the usage of two names – Wave Park Group and URBNSURF – left open legal loopholes, precisely, that Wave Park Group would not be held accountable if URBNSURF were to collapse financially; As Wave Park Group is the parent company of URBNSURF. 

“We are disappointed that the interests of a commercial developer have been placed above the interests of the community, in that … the developer negotiating with the city is guaranteed certainty at the expense of the law not being complied with,” SFPA’s president, David Maynier told the ABC

Furthermore, SFPA were also concerned with the possible environmental issues the wavepool may cause, particularly the use of treated water being used in such large quantities smack bang on the Swan River. This issue however had already being addressed when the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that the proposed pool wasn’t large or impactful enough to warrant a ‘full environmental assessment’. 

On Wednesday this week, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of URBNSURF and declared that their 30 year lease was valid and therefore negotiations would not need to restart. “Accordingly, while the public notices published by the City did not comply with s 3.58, in my opinion the failure does not affect the validity of the decision to enter the lease,” read the judgement from Justice Allanson.

URBNSURF (along with all the ravenous pool fanatics) were thoroughly pleased with the result, “This is a huge win for the broader community because it rejects a silly and spurious technical argument that should never have been come before the Court,” but were disappointed that the ‘unnecessary’ dispute has pushed back the development plans until later next year.

“The activities of the Swan Foreshore Protection Association Inc., the Alfred Cove Action Group and others have now wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars of local ratepayers funds and countless hours of Melville Council staff time, that should instead have been employed in creating a better community in Melville. These groups and the individuals driving them should be held accountable for their actions by their community members.” Andrew Ross, URBSURF’s founder and executive chairman, continued. 

Although URBNSURF need to firmly establish their plans with the Western Australian Planning Commission before construction starts, they’re hoping to have the completion of the park scheduled not too far behind both their Sydney and Melbourne centres.  

Melbourne’s first real pool powered waves are due to be breaking by November this year, and the construction on Sydney’s pool in Olympic Park will be breaking ground early next year in 2019.

Until then though, you’ll have to save up for a trip to Basque, fend off the energy drink fuelled locals at Waco, Texas, or plow money into the next fundraiser Kelly runs that features away a pipe-dream experience at his idyllic poolside country club.  


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