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Smiths back on the radar

24 August 2006

Letter to the Editor, Busselton~Dunsborough Mail

Well beach huggers and coast lovers the weather might not be heating up enough to spend long, relaxing days at some of our favourite sandy places, but the Smiths Beach development issue certainly has in the early part of August.

"Smiths house plan in court" ('The Mail', 21/06/06) was a recent report. The State Administrative Tribunal dismissed Canal Rocks Pty Ltd's plan for a visually impacting single dwelling on the scenic western portion of the hillside overlooking Smiths Beach. Canal Rocks Pty Ltd being one of two land developers at Smiths Beach.

It was interesting to note in the text of the dismissal that one house would have significant impact on people's "experience" of Smiths Beach. What will be the impact of a many building development on the sense of place that historically has been Smiths Beach? I'd like to thank the Busselton Shire planners who had to ride this case all the way to court to make the developer understand that their plan was inappropriate. Our State Planning Minister even made a submission on the application pointing out the developer's proposal was, "inconsistent with the orderly and proper planning of the subject site", that being Smiths Beach Hill.

In the "Council for the Community" page ('The Mail', 09/08/06) was another bit of news regarding Smiths Beach. An amendment to our local planning law, the town planning scheme, has been added, which when distilled down from all of the gobbledegook, reads that the visual amenity protection promised by the WA State Government have now been included in some form. This means a further smidgen of protection for the visual beauty of Smiths Beach. And an important consideration for public submissions if and when the developer's most recent plan is presented to the citizens of Busselton Shire for comment.

With the developer showing the community that they are unable to follow proper and orderly planning for Smiths Beach, I alert those in the community with a passion or an interest for the rugged west coast of the shire to remain alert for the Council decision on the developers most recent plan (submitted in May 2006). Ready your pens and fleet typing fingertips to make your comments.

Once this decade of planning stages is completed and a development compromise reached, the bulldozers will arrive as sure as summer sunburn. Once it's done, it's done. Let it be the visionary community who shape Smiths Beach's future, not a short-sighted developer shown to be improper in their approach to the beautiful, significant place that unfortunately finds itself in their bumbling grasp.

Frank Gaschk

(1) ABC News Online, 31/05/2006

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