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Locals fear for Smiths Beach's future

26 August 2005

Suellen Jerrard, The West Australian

Standing at the edge of Smiths Beach in the South-West, David Hunt admits the land before him is the best development site in the State.

But the retired vigneron and real estate valuer is worried his life-long home will be damaged irreversibly if plans for a $330 million project go ahead.

Canal Rocks Pty Ltd wants to turn the area into "the South-West's Rottnest" with plans for 114 permanent homes, 272 holiday units, a 100-bed hotel, 72-bed backpackers' lodge and 2000sq m of retail space.

Mr Hunt believes the development is too big, expands too far into the delicate western ridge and the local infrastructure and the environment will not be able to cope with the 1500 people who could be accommodated within 15 years.

"It's not a case of worrying about your own backyard," he said. "It's a fantastic development site and a wonderful area and this must be done right."

Michael Chandler, whose family has operated 15 two-bedroom holiday units at Smiths Beach for 26 years, believes the proposal is massively oversized for the 30ha developable area. It was three times bigger than nearby Yallingup and in addition to 100 units being built on the old Smiths Beach caravan park site, some of which had presold for as much as $1.8 million.

"We need to share it with other people, we don't have a problem with that, but it's the size of the development," Mr Chandler said."They are trying to bring Subiaco down to the beach at Yallingup, one of the most pristine areas of the State. There is a subtle way to develop and this is not it."

Canal Rocks Pty Ltd has started briefing the community on its latest proposal for the site, confident it will not meet the same strong opposition that confronted initial pland five years ago.

Chairman David McKenzie said the proposal had been significantly scaled down and redesigned and the developers had been honest in addressing the community's concerns and reworking the plan, which was now a world-class project that dserved support.

Busselton Shire received more than 3000 submissions opposing the original plan. Shire president Kevin Douglas said while he was yet to assess the proposal in detail, it looked good and appeared to address community concerns.

Cr Douglas said it was well received by councillors when they were briefed by the developers this week and was being assessed by council staff before being put out for public comment.

Copyright 2005 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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