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Shire of Augusta-Margaret River sticks by integrated transport plan despite parking confusion in CBD

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Existing carparks are being relied on to provide parking despite growth in the Margaret River town centre.
Camera IconExisting carparks are being relied on to provide parking despite growth in the Margaret River town centre. Credit: Supplied

The Shire’s top planner says the local government will be guided by its existing traffic analysis despite WA’s Joint Development Assessment Panel recommending it take a hard look at the future for parking in the Margaret River CBD.

The issue was raised during October’s consideration of an Adrian Fini-led boutique hotel approved by JDAP for Fearn Avenue which heard strong debate about parking in the town centre.

JDAP presiding member Tony Arias and colleagues urged the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River to review its plans for CBD parking amid concerns development pressure would be ongoing.

“It’s something the council needs to consider as a realistic option or we’re going to face the same issue (in the future) whether there’s enough parking in the town centre,” Mr Arias said.

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That plea was echoed by Margaret River business operators who told the Times they would seek further meetings with planning officers amid fears the local government was not across the private arrangements in which many businesses pay fees to private carpark owners who themselves did not pay rates on their town-centre holdings.

However, key stakeholder the Margaret River Business Network told the Times this week no forward movement had occurred on the meeting push.

Shire sustainable development and infrastructure director Nick Logan said the Shire’s Integrated Transport Strategy, developed in 2022, would “guide the review of the existing parking strategy for parking in the town centre”.

“One of several potential directions would be for future developments to make cash-in-lieu payments for parking,” Mr Logan said.

“However, this would be subject to additional parking being able to be realised.”

Shire president Julia Meldrum also said the transport strategy noted “the need to continually review parking requirements and potential solutions”.

At the JDAP meeting members insisted on cash-in-lieu compensation for the hotel’s parking shortfall, which was previously waived by the council and not sought by planners — despite the developer making an offer — because the hotel was not initially supported due to the major lack of parking.

Part of that reasoning included the lack of suitable sites in the CBD for extra parking that could be funded by a developer’s contribution.

“Shire officers did not support the proposal due to a lack of parking provided on site and did not agree that this could be mitigated through payment of cash in lieu in this instance,” Cr Meldrum said.

Nearby business owner and former Chamber of Commerce president Melissa d’Ath was among those pitching for more to be done to address parking given the developer was allowed to consider adjacent carparks within its approval — despite that including private carparks for which she and others paid fees.

She also noted the proponent planned to mark some of its bays private, despite the shortfall and reliance on public car bays.

MRBN committee member Barbara Maidment had long warned about the inevitable over-development of the town centre and had offered to work with the Shire to identify solutions.

“Parking is becoming the nightmare we always thought it would be,” she said.

In 2014, the Times reported the Shire’s parking strategy found Margaret River had an adequate supply of parking, but more than 500 extra bays would be needed by 2035.

Introduction of timed parking was debated twice since then and not supported and officers indicated the 2014 strategy was due for revision.

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