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Get Smiths Beach right

04 January 2006

Letter to the Editor, Busselton~Dunsborough Mail

It's interesting isn't it, only a month or two ago, the Smiths Beach developers were using their considerable financial resources to attack my credibility and the Smiths Beach Action Group by alleging that we were misrepresenting their development proposal.

These attacks also suggested that I had a vested financial interest in stopping the development despite my declaring on the public record many times that we are not opposed to a development at Smiths Beach.

Clearly these attacks were part of a strategy to silence critics while they attempted to push through their new development proposal without allowing the shire planning staff time to complete assessing the plans and presenting their report to council.

Wisely, council voted not to go down that path and to wait until the planners had completed their job. Despite the huge media blitz where we see a high profile sporting identity promoting the new development at Smiths Beach, the developers have withdrawn the plan for further changes.

I would have expected that they would have learned the first time around that large development proposals in sensitive coastal locations require a process where all the relevant authorities and the local community need to be included in the planning stages.

As the formally recognised community stakeholder on this issue, the Smiths Beach Action group has been working hard to ensure the community voice is heard and a satisfactory outcome is achieved.

The real issues are the size and visual appearance of the development.

The planning policy which applies to Smiths Beach states "proposed development at smiths Beach will reinforce the primary tourism function of the site and not compromise the natural values of the area. The size, nature and location of any development in the development investigation area must be determined having regard to the overriding need to protect the visual amenity and environmental values of the area".

Let's hope the third time round they avoid the mistakes of the past and enter into meaningful discussions with SBAG and talk about scale and visual impact which would ensure a development that meets with the planning guidelines and community expectations.

Kevin Merifield, Yallingup

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