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Angry community demands answers on Smiths Beach.

10 Feb 2001.

By Steve Butler of The West Australian

The controversial proposal for a big development at Smiths Beach near Yallingup might have been dumped this week - but an angry community still wants answers.

The Smiths Beach Action Group, which galvanised community support against the proponents, said the WA Planning Commission process which allowed the proposal to develop was flawed.

Group committeeman Bill Mitchell said yesterday the community would not turn its back just because the proponents had withdrawn their plan.

Mr Mitchell promised a diligent public scrutiny when the revised proposal was resubmitted.

Former Busselton Shire councillors Bob McKay and Shelley Cullen believe they were duped by the commission.

Both were steering committee members for the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge statement of planning policy but denied that they had heard discussion of a major development at Smiths Beach.

Mr McKay said a change from the policy's draft proposal of a low-density development was rubber-stamped to become a major tourist and residential package.

The steering committee decided on October 30, 1997, not to review the settlement hierarchy proposed in the draft policy. Just over a month later, a change to the proponentsí lot at Smiths Beach had been mysteriously included for the final policy.

The change was made despite most of the 998 public submissions on the draft policy opposed to major
development at the site.

"There was never any mention whatsoever of expansion at the steering committee meetings," an angry Mr McKay said. "Then all of a sudden we're talking about a new town on the coast and the biggest single development the shire had considered.

"We were representatives of the community and people were coming up to ask how we could have agreed with it."

Mr Mitchell said that if the proponents had decided to withdraw their plans to let community anger ease before resubmitting a similar project, they again would face powerful opposition.

"It's the oldest trick in the book, but they won't get away with it," he said.

© Copyright 2001 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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