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Smiths Beach bombshell

09 February 2001

By Steve Butler of The West Australian

The proponents of a controversial development at Smiths Beach near Yallingup have withdrawn their proposal.

Canal Rocks Pty Ltd chairman David McKenzie said yesterday negative community feeling had led the company to withdraw its development guide plan from the Busselton Shire Council.

But Mr McKenzie said it would be resubmitted in a different form later. The proponents would consult national and international experts before resubmitting the plan. They would continue to take into account world's best practice for coastal land.

"I am concerned that the proposed development has polarised the community and much of the recent debate has lost focus because it has become too political and emotional," Mr McKenzie said.

"We will consider submissions already made by the community and the new proposal will remain consistent with the existing local and regional policies."

The proposal included plans for 230 residential lots, 460 holiday units, an outdoor festival area, village and community centre, upgraded coastal paths and public parking.

Busselton Shire chief executive Michael Swift said he was shocked at the withdrawal of the proposal so close to the public submission deadline of February 19.

But he said all submissions on the proposal would still be considered by the council at a meeting late next month.

"The council still wants to adopt some form of policy position in relation to the site," Mr Swift said. "There has been a pretty good community feeling about a range of issues and the work put in won't go to waste."

Smiths Beach Action Group representative Bill Mitchell said the withdrawal was not a win for opponents of the plan but he was thankful for the community spirit galvanised over the issue.

He said the group would still lodge more than 3000 submissions against the proposal with the council next week. It was suspicious of the proponentsí next move.

Community anger had grown against the development at Smiths Beach since it was revealed last December that the plan was substantially bigger than first proposed in the draft Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge statement of planning policy.

Mr Mitchell said that anger would resurface unless the proponents scaled down the plan.

"The only thing Canal Rocks Pty Ltd have got right so far is the overdue observation that this development is totally unacceptable to the local community and visitors to our unique coastline," he said.

"It's ironic the developers have withdrawn the plan as they have claimed world's best practice with this ridiculous monstrosity."

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