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Shire of Augusta-Margaret River to release 10-year vision for town’s historic Old Settlement

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River is on the cusp of revealing its latest long-awaited plans for rejuvenating the town’s Old Settlement. 
Camera IconThe Shire of Augusta-Margaret River is on the cusp of revealing its latest long-awaited plans for rejuvenating the town’s Old Settlement.  Credit: Warren Hately/Augusta-Margaret River Times/Augusta-Margaret River Times

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River is on the cusp of revealing its latest long-awaited plans for rejuvenating the town’s Old Settlement.

The details, due to be released today, Friday, come after several years’ consultation work when trail and dual-use connections were factored in to what is now called the Wooditjup Bilya Precinct Community Plan.

The Times understands the new vision, which comes after the site was last examined in 2013 council decisions, includes demolition of a vacant Shire-owned house.

But long-term council watchers say it’s time for the Shire to integrate the site with the town.

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The land which now includes the Hairy Marron Bike Cafe and relocated buildings occupied by the Margaret River and Districts Historical Society was reviewed in 2013 when a 10-year lease was awarded to winemaker Mike Gadd and Common Ground Trails owner David Willcox to create a bed and breakfast as well as a regional hub for mountain biking.

The then-Augusta-Margaret River Tourism Association had also eyed the location for a major interpretive centre.

Instead, the Hairy Marron was established, with the historical society utilising the old blacksmith’s workshop included in the commercial lease.

Shire asset services manager David Nicholson said the new 10-year plan would guide renewal of ageing infrastructure within the precinct which included Rotary Park.

“Modest upgrades and proposed replacement works in the Old Settlement precinct including carparks, pathways, landscaping, vegetation and weed control will be undertaken,” Mr Nicholson said.

The historical society was already on a periodic lease, while the Willcox-Gadd lease expires next year.

“When considering use-type suitability within the Old Settlement, the Shire considers how it will contribute to sustainability, universal and public access, the natural environment, and respect for cultural and historical values,” Mr Nicholson said.

MRDHS president Viv Halsall said the group worked with stakeholders on the plan, but had no further comment on ways the site could be improved or expanded.

The Shire declined to provide details of income received from lessees without a Freedom of Information Act application.

Public comment on the new plan opened on Friday, March 24.

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