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New Smiths Beach plan put forward

17 August 2007

By Suellen Jerrard, The West Australian

The controversial Smiths Beach hotel development, which claimed the scalp of a Cabinet minister and tarnished reputations during explosive Corruption and Crime Commission hearings last year, is about to be thrust back into the spotlight with the latest development plan set to be released for public comment.

The latest plan by developer Canal Rocks - which employed disgraced lobbyists Julian Grill and Brian Burke to push its multi-million-dollar scheme through Busselton Council - involves turning 21 ha on the southern end of Smiths Beach into 272 tourist units; 104 permanent homes; two 50-bed hotels; a 60-bed backpacker lodge; about 50 camping sites and 1700sqm of commercial floor space.

Chairman David McKenzie said yesterday the project had been scaled back dramatically since plan in 2000 and 2005, with 19ha now set aside for public space and reserves and the proposed height and density of buildings well below what was allowed or already in place at Smiths Beach.

Mr McKenzie said Canal Rocks undertook one of WA's most extensive community consultation programs for a coastal development. The project would deliver much-needed services and infrastructure for Smiths Beach and take pressure off surrounding coastal areas. It was estimated that the project would inject $330 million into the regional economy during the 12 year construction phase and $27 million directly and $70 million indirectly every year after. But Smiths Beach Action Group chairman Bob McKay said the latest "over-the-top" plan was "totally out of scale and character with the environs of Smiths Beach" and only a marginal improvement on what was released seven years ago, when more than 3000 objections were lodged.

That plan included 230 homes; 360 tourist units; 100 hotel rooms and 1000sqm of commercial floor space.

A CCC report into the Smiths Beach hearings, which implicated several MPs, the local council and government departments, is pending.

Busselton Shire lifestyle development director Nigel Bancroft said the latest plan was due to be released for public comment on Thursday.

Once the council decides on the project, probably before the end of the year, Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan will direct an independent review team to advise the WA Planning Commission.

Copyright 2007 by WA Newspapers Ltd. This report is for information only in order to inform readers about the this WA Newspapers 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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