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The coast is integral to our sense of place

12 April 2006

Letter to the Editor Busselton~Dunsborough Mail

The coast is integral to the sense of place that describes the Shire of Busselton.

For example, thirty coastal photographs appeared in the early April edition of The Mail real estate lift out. Many of those tranquil or inspiring coastal images feature little or no human impact. They project an idyllic sense of place that can be found within the Shire. The realtors understand, and in turn demonstrate, the attraction of our coastal sense of place in the advertisements selling their product.

Like viewing a looming cold front from the Torpedo Rocks car park, we can also see the Seachange rolling over our locale. Jayne Rickard's interview with Shire CEO Andrew Macnish, "Population booming as shire plans for the future" (The Mail, 1/3/06, p.3), casts a flashlight beam into the uncertainty.

In the article the CEO outlines a vision for sprawl limiting, dense, hard-edged development nodes and canvasses the proposal of a new Town Planning Scheme.

Bill Franssen of Dunsborough has planted his stake on the rubbery border between the nodes of Busselton and Dunsborough with his letter, "Keep Dunsborough out of growth plans" (The Mail, 5/4/06). Mr. Franssen is eloquent in his concerns in maintaining the sense of place that currently is Dunsborough. He uses as one example of visual maintenance the retention of undeveloped rural land. I hope councillors and Shire staff heed Bill's letter.

I share Bill's concerns. This includes the concern of constant manipulation of local planning documents to destructive ends. Initially the documents are formulated full of high hopes to then be tested, tweaked and amended into irrelevance by developers insincere toward preserving our locality's sense of place.

Bill spoke of magic Dunsborough. My interest is focused to the west of the Naturaliste Ridge.

The west coast is a unique asset to the Busselton Shire. It requires special consideration, as it is a place of WA state significance. The rural west coast is a place of visual beauty, low human impact and ongoing tourism potential in its natural state. It currently possesses a timeless sense of place due to the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park and areas of scenic rugged coastline. The sense of place is epitomised by the "Wow" expressed when cresting the ridge of Smiths Beach Road or Yallingup Beach Road and the scenic coastline breaks into view.

With the suggestion of a new planning document, a new town planning scheme should be greeted with community alertness. Remember, it was the new (in 1998) planning policy that saw a tourist node of maximum 500 people at Smiths Beach expand into the controversial, large, sense-of-place threatening, development planned today. The CEO's interview suggests expansion of existing nodes.

Any future town planning scheme for the Shire must pay due attention to retaining the current, defining sense of place of the west coast. This means giving special consideration and protection to visual, environmental, and social goals. These significant considerations should over-ride any short-term economic aspirations expressed by development proponents riding the shockwaves of a real estate boom.

I encourage the community to remain aware of the forecasted new town planning scheme. That planning document will guide future development.

Recently the coastal citizens of the Augusta Margaret River Shire saw the loss of a protective clause in their Town Planning Scheme. It has opened the door to inappropriate coastal development on their Shire's west coast. Please remain alert.

Frank Gaschk, Yallingup

Copyright 2006 by Rural Press Ltd. This report is for information only in order to inform readers about the this Rural Press Ltd report. 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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