Resort plan is still a go

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Premier Mark McGowan last week reviewing the five-star resort plans for the TV cameras at Gnarabup.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan last week reviewing the five-star resort plans for the TV cameras at Gnarabup. Credit: Warren Hately Picture:

Property developer Luke Saraceni has confirmed further details about his plans to build a long-stymied five-star resort at Gnarabup — and plans for a village centre featuring private apartments and holiday villas.

Speaking with the Times this week, the Saracen Properties boss said residents would come to appreciate the development, which had factored in the Shire’s local tourism strategy and would deal sensitively with the coastal setting as well as injecting life into the local economy.

Those protesting the development were “not the majority,” Mr Saraceni said. “Some of the community are obviously upset about it.

“I understand some people might think this will never happen.

“We do intend to go ahead,” he said. “We’re not going to do anything fantastically different than what was proposed before.”

Marriott International would run the proposed five-star resort and talks were still ongoing about who would manage the nearby tourist villas. Mr Saraceni confirmed planning for the precinct would occur during the same process, with the commercial sites — several shops and a restaurant site — and the first tranche of 26 villas forming the “town centre” a priority. The four land parcels adjacent to the resort included a mix of short-stay holiday villas and apartments in the same style, designed by famed Fremantle architect Michael Petroni.

Mr Saraceni said about 30 per cent of the 80 proposed villas would be for sale for permanent residents, with the land zoned future development.

He also said “all of the short stays might go on the market”.

The previous landowners sought a relaxation to allow dual-use for residential and holiday accommodation.

Shire of Augusta-Margaret River sustainable development and infrastructure director Nick Logan said the Shire’s tourism planning strategy, endorsed in 2016, “identified the potential for development of this land to be further considered based on entertaining more permanent residential components of development within the site, providing the development was still predominantly for tourism purposes”.

Speaking about the protests, a State Government spokesman said the sites had been earmarked for development since early last decade. “Any development activity in the Gnarabup area would be subject to both environmental consideration and community consultation,” he said.

“Questions on the design should be directed to the proponents.”

“The State Government’s view is that this is a fantastic project for the local community, particularly given the severe impacts of COVID-19 on local tourism.”

Mr Saraceni said WA’s Joint Development Assessment Panel would likely be the determining authority unless new legislation, reported by the Times last week, advanced it as a project of State significance.

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