THE WA government has extended by two years a scheme to buy back residential properties in Port Hedland’s West End.

The voluntary scheme enables the state government to purchase residential properties to reduce land use conflicts with port users.

The government established the Port Hedland Voluntary Buy-Back Scheme (PHVBS) to assist in the implementation of its response to the 2018 Port Hedland Dust Management Taskforce Report.

The government response to this report also led to the establishment of the Port Hedland West End Improvement Scheme No. 1 where permanent residential use is no longer permitted.

Pilbara Ports Authority said almost 60% of the eligible properties have been purchased, or are in the process of being purchased, by Hedland Maritime Initiative (HMI), a subsidiary company of Pilbara Ports.

The government is extending the scheme for a further two years to 31 December 2025, with some changes to its operational terms, to stimulate increased take-up by property owners.

The scheme will continue to be administered by HMI but would be overseen by a locally constituted steering committee to be chaired by the Pilbara Development Commission.

This steering committee will include Pilbara Ports, the Town of Port Hedland and the Port Hedland Industries Council. They are to report to the responsible ministers for ports and for planning.

WA ports minister David Michael said he was pleased to announce the extension of the scheme to provide the opportunity to increase the take up by eligible property owners.

“We appreciate the ongoing participation of the iron ore miners to help facilitate the redevelopment of the West End for purposes sympathetic to its location adjacent to the port,” he said.

Planning minister John Carey said the next stage was an opportunity to progress the planning for the West End as a maritime precinct.

“We can now work towards deploying $22 million of scheme funds to future development in the Town of Port Hedland,” he said.

And Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel described Port Hedland as a vibrant town with a diversified economy.

“The buyback scheme is helping to create an exciting new precinct in conjunction with the $180 million Spoilbank Marina project. This will be transformational for both the Town and the greater Pilbara region.”

The type of properties eligible under the PHVBS will be expanded to include certain non-residential properties located on lots which are otherwise fully eligible – for example shopfront businesses, or short stay accommodation operations in residential apartment blocks.

The valuation mechanism used to determine a fair price for property owners selling their properties will also be modified.

Funding for the property purchases is provided solely by iron ore exporters via a special levy on all iron ore tonnes shipped through the port of Port Hedland. PPA said funds collected will also be used for minor works to improve properties acquired by HMI.

During the next phase of the scheme, planning for the redevelopment of the West End precinct will begin. The WA Planning Commission, supported by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, will facilitate the progression of structure planning, in line with the provisions of the Improvement Scheme.

Funding from the PHVBS will be available for future development in the Town of Port Hedland, with an initial contribution of $22 million.