A new study has found the Capes region is leading the State as the most attractive destination for people and businesses seeking to relocate. The Margaret River region’s lifestyle attraction — amplified during two years of COVID-19 in which the resident population has boomed — is likely to place continued added pressure on the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River. A recent consumer survey from travel search company KAYAK found 56 per cent of Australians wanted permanent flexibility in their work arrangements. According to KAYAK brand director Nicola Carmichael, the feedback showed destinations where workers could balance jobs with lifestyle would come in for greater attention. “With the reopening of domestic and international borders coinciding with the ‘return to office’ here in Australia, we expect to see the ‘workation’ trend grow significantly in 2022 and beyond,” she said. The KAYAK survey comes as mining company Fortescue revealed upcoming public meetings in Margaret River and Busselton as it extends its charter flights to allow more fly-in, fly-out workers to live in the Capes region. Shire president Paula Cristoffanini told the Times lifestyle appeal was a major factor in the local government’s strategic planning. “The increasing ability and acceptance of working from home is likely to be one of the factors that has contributed to people’s choice to seek to enjoy living in the shire, resulting in growth in the shire’s population, significant demand for housing, and pressure on the availability of permanent accommodation,” Cr Cristoffanini said. “Addressing the impacts of growth is a key challenge in a comparatively small population.” Although strategic planning had prepared ample residential land for future development, population growth placed additional strain on public infrastructure, the Shire president said. “It also presents challenges in maintaining the key characteristics of the area that make it a desirable place to live and the continuing need to preserve a healthy natural environment,” she said. These challenges informed the Shire’s focus on sustainability — for the economy as well as the natural environment. “For example, our new Local Planning Strategy has clear goals around encouraging smaller house footprints, lower energy demands of houses, and shifting a significant proportion of new development to urban infill over greenfield land,” she said. Other efforts included introduction of the three-bin system to reduce waste going to landfill and seeking eco-accreditation for the region as an international destination. The Margaret River Chamber of Commerce did not respond to inquiries.