Puma hits town plan

Pierra WillixBusselton Dunsborough Times
Dunsborough Town centre from corner of Coles building on Dunn Bay Road.
Camera IconDunsborough Town centre from corner of Coles building on Dunn Bay Road.

Plans for a pedestrian-friendly town centre in Dunsborough have been hit by the approval of a Puma station on the town’s main street, according to City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley.

Changes to the City’s Local Planning Scheme could also be on the horizon after the State Administrative Tribunal gave the green light for the station, concluding it was correctly classified as a “convenience store” under the scheme.

The twice-rejected development application was given the go-ahead by the SAT last week, with the tribunal determining it would not be inconsistent with the “established character” of the area.

However, Mr Henley told the Times the development would hinder the City’s ability to further develop a pedestrian-friendly environment in Dunsborough’s town centre.

“Unfortunately, should the development go ahead, as now seems likely, the ability to continue that town centre, pedestrian-friendly environment further along Dunn Bay Road to the west is now significantly compromised, perhaps for several decades,” he said.

In its ruling, the tribunal found there were no planning documents in the City’s strategic studies that set out any “standards, requirements, or guidelines necessary” for a particular streetscape character.

It claimed the City had set out controls for the development of the scheme but had not started the process to action the actual development control documents.

But Mr Henley said the SAT took a narrow view of the current planning framework for the town centre.

“There are a number of documents that articulate that the desired form of development is to be along ‘main street’ lines, and that intent should really be clear to anyone that takes the time to find and read the relevant documents,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the tribunal seems to take a view that unless the direction is provided in the statutory town planning scheme itself, it really does not carry any weight.”

Mr Henley said the decision suggested direction needed to be in the form of prescriptive, quantitative and arbitrary standards.

“That looks like a very legalistic view of how the planning system should function and operate,” he said.

Given the SAT decision, Mr Henley said the City would clearly need to consider including more prescriptive standards directly in the town planning scheme.

Petitions in protest of the development were also presented, however the tribunal remarked since the authenticity of the signatures was not known and the location of signees not clear, “no weight should be attributed to the petition”.

Protest group Puma2go spokesman Tony Sharp said under the State planning scheme, community impact was supposed to be taken into account but said the “thousands of petitions submitted” could have been investigated as postal codes had been included.

“This is wrong in so many ways,” he said.

“On a planning level, on a traffic level and on a health and safety level. It may now be technically legal but it's certainly not right.”

The City was not considering appealing the decision, Mr Henley said, as “there does not appear to be any basis for doing so”.

The Times contacted a member of proponent DCSC for comment.

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