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Smiths Beach row widens

14 Dec 2000

By Steve Butler The West Australian

A South-West Ministry of Planning official admitted the office had erred by endorsing provisions for a big development at Smiths Beach, it was claimed yesterday.

Long-time Smiths Beach resident Bill Mitchell said the official's comment two weeks ago boosted his hopes of a back down from the 40ha, 700-lot development.

Ministry South-West manager Larry Guise said the comment, if it had been made, was not the official position of his office or the WA Planning Commission.

Mr Guise said there had been extensive public consultation before the ministry released the Leeuwin Naturaliste statement of planning policy in September 1998.

Mr Mitchell, who was project manager of the 50-lot Gunyulgup Valley Estate subdivision five years ago, would not name the official who allegedly made the statement.

Busselton shire president Beryle Morgan defended the council's actions during the development of the Smiths Beach proposal.

Mrs Morgan said she had concerns about the size of the development but described opponents of the proposal as short-sighted.

"People have come and bought their own piece of our paradise but when someone else has the same idea they don't want to share," she said. "There is a lot of difference between people buying property for personal use and those who are developing for money.

"But nothing has been done through the back door and this agenda item has a long way to go yet."

A committee formed at a community meeting in Yallingup on Tuesday night will fight the proposal. Former developer Kevin Merifield will chair the committee.

Mr Merifield has come under criticism because of his background.

He lives on an 80ha farm he bought 25 years ago just 2km from Smiths Beach. He was influential in the development of the Meelup Hill subdivision eight years ago and the recently completed Yallingup Fields.

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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