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Resort plan sparks battle

13 Dec 2000

By Steve Butler The West Australian

Angry Smiths Beach residents have promised to fight a major seaside development they believe will ruin their South-West paradise.

Plans for a tourist and residential development more than four times the size of the neighbouring Yallingup settlement are in the final stages.

The Canal Rocks Trust proposal includes 700 new blocks - 230 of them for residential housing - on 40ha. It is expected to be released for public comment through Busselton Shire Council within a fortnight.

Residents and tourism operators rallied against the proposal at a meeting at the Yallingup Hall last night chaired by former Perth businessman and now Yallingup resident Kevin Merifield.

Mr Merifield said local people felt the proposal had been developed behind their backs.

"We need to make people aware of the magnitude of this thing, which is frightening," he said.

"International and interstate visitors fall in love with the place because it's unique the way it is. We don't want to translate it to an East Perth or Subiaco type of density."

Canal Rocks Pty Ltd chairman David McKenzie defended the proposal last night, saying it would help ease mounting pressure on other coastal hotspots.

Mr McKenzie said opposition to the proposal was based on a lack of understanding about the planning process.

"It's just a latent knee-jerk reaction to the whole thing," he said.

"There is no doubt that piece of land offers the most beneficial aspects of any piece of land in the area.

"What we are proposing is of first-class quality. It will be absolutely fantastic not just for the area, but for the State as a whole."

WA Planning Commission South-West manager Larry Guise said provisions for the proposal had been endorsed by State Cabinet through the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge Statement of Planning Policy in 1988.

This had helped outline a potential coastal development in Smiths Beach, Yallingup, Indijup or Moses Rock.

He believed the policy, which included strict conservation controls, protected over-development on the coast by making provisions for more tourist and residential plans inland.

Busselton Shire chief executive Michael Swift said development of Smiths Beach had been a council issue for the past 14 years. The council was concerned about potential visual and environmental problems it could trigger.
He believed it could also bring a quality family style accommodation village to the coastal area.

Canal Rocks Beach Resort manager Emma Tubb branded the proposal as greedy.

Chandler's Smith Beach Villas manager Yvonne Smith said the development would destroy the area. "This is one of the last little spots on the coast where tourists can enjoy some peace and quiet out of suburbia," Mrs Smith said.

Copyright 2000 by West Australian Newspapers Ltd. This report is for information only. No charge for such use is made and the material is not being used for commercial purposes. The text has not been modified from the original report.

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