Protest group spots ‘error’ in draft Shire of Augusta-Margaret River new planning scheme

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Gnarabup is subject to the Shire's draft planning strategy.
Camera IconGnarabup is subject to the Shire's draft planning strategy. Credit: Russel Ord

Preserve Gnarabup has claimed a “win” with the WA Planning Commission admitting a contentious change in the new draft planning scheme is actually a mistake.

However, the protest group was continuing its campaign, calling for residents to lodge submissions on the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River’s new document as well as wanting consultation halted to address ongoing concerns.

WAPC confirmed the draft Local Planning Scheme 2 change in zoning for land adjacent to the Luke Saraceni-led Westin Margaret River Resort & Spa was a mistake.

But the protesters remained adamant proposed changes for the development lots themselves removed restrictions keeping the sites predominantly for tourism.

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The Shire, the Department of Lands, Planning and Heritage and the developers have denied changes in terminology would affect what was permitted on those sites.

But Preserve Gnarabup spokeswoman Beth Carlessi questioned why the Shire had not disclosed the mistake instead of defending the change now confirmed by WAPC as an error.

“People and groups like our put a lot of effort into making submissions and the information provided by the Shire for us to comment on should be correct,” she said.

“There is, however, still the even more important issue of the bizarre removal of development protections for Lots 501-504 from LPS2 to be resolved.”

Preserve Gnarabup argued the change for those lots to urban development in the draft scheme would remove agreed tourism protections at those sites, clearing the way for a major housing project greater than that already proposed.

Shire planners did not explain why the error was not picked up, but reiterated advice from WAPC the northern part of lot 783 would not change.

A DPLH spokesperson said the “rules and intent” of the existing scheme would carry over into what would be permitted on the resort and village lots.

“The classification of tourism in the northern portion of lot 783 was an administrative error and will be corrected back to public open space before the scheme is finalised,” they said.

“Since there is no material difference to the zoning of the Gnarabup lots, the draft scheme will not impact consideration of the Part 17 significant development application for a hotel, commercial and residential development at Gnarabup.”

The resort and a de facto new town centre for Gnarabup would face direct arbitration from WA’s State Development Assessment Unit once reviews and consultation were completed.

Joel Saraceni, project director at Saracen Properties, also hosed down concerns about the change in terminology.

“It’s simply a refinement of the existing provisions which means we can do the same as what we were doing before,” Mr Saraceni said.

The developer also committed to its advertised vision for the village plan.

“Our sites have been zoned for exactly this type of tourism development for 18 years and the South West needs purpose-built tourism accommodation more than ever,” he said.

“This will help free up existing housing for people to actually live in instead of being used for Airbnb all the time.”

Preserve Gnarabup questioned why the tourism classification endorsed in the Shire’s local planning strategy was not applied if the use would not change.

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