Witchcliffe, Gnarabup groups raise issues with Shire of Augusta-Margaret River new planning scheme

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River.
Camera IconThe Shire of Augusta-Margaret River. Credit: Warren Hately/Augusta-Margaret River Times/Augusta-Margaret River Times

Concerns about the draft version of the region’s new planning scheme continue to grow.

As well as an appearance from Preserve Gnarabup’s Lyn Serventy, residents from the Witchcliffe Community Association fronted last week’s Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council meeting to voice concerns about Local Planning Scheme 2.

Preserve Gnarabup has reported the Shire to agencies including WA’s Crime and Corruption Commission while arguing councillors were not adequately briefed on changes to LPS2 made before advertising the scheme for public comment.

Last Wednesday night, November 22, WCA president Todd Giles fronted elected members to pitch for an extension to the comment period.

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“It’s quite a complex document,” he said.

“We’ve been liaising with a few other bodies around the shire.”

Mr Giles and other WCA members told the Times they were meeting soon with Shire planners because of changes to the wording for zones affecting conservation lots among other items.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, Shire sustainable development and infrastructure director Nick Logan turned down the extension request.

The advertising period, which ends in late January, was already the longest consultation undertaken by the Shire and Mr Logan said late submissions would still be considered if planners were advised.

Mr Giles said the busy summer period when many people were away or caught up in the festive season was not conducive to consultation.

Residents wanted a thorough understanding of the proposed changes before they made submissions, Mr Giles said.

Once rebuffed, the WCA president asked elected members: “How does everyone feel about that, councillors?”

Shire president Julia Meldrum told him “We’re very confident this is going to be a thorough consultation process.”.

Preserve Gnarabup has meanwhile demanded a halt to the public comment period until the reasons for zoning changes at lots involved in the Luke Saraceni-led Westin Margaret River Resort & Spa — as well as its adjacent mixed-density housing project — were explained.

The Times has also heard from rural residents concerned about LPS2’s proposed changes to zoning permissions.

Ms Serventy — a former Shire councillor — asked whether the version of LPS2 provided to councillors in 2020 could now be released to the public.

Heatedly, she also demanded a direct answer as to whether that version was the same as that now out for public comment.

Mr Logan said a more detailed response would be provided but releasing the earlier version of the document could potentially muddy the consultation process.

“The answer is no. It’s changed,” he said.

Releasing the previous draft “doesn’t really serve any benefit,” he said.

“What’s relevant is there is a draft planning scheme that’s available for public comment at the moment,” the director said.

The Shire did not respond to further Times inquiries before deadline.

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