Exit of planning department’s key player is a surprises for local shire

Augusta-Margaret River’s director of development services, a key player in the shire’s planning department, has left the embattled shire.

The Augusta-Margaret River Shire director of development services Manfred Boldy was made redundant this week, leaving the issue of the Mark Hohnen development on Gnarabup beach still unresolved.

Shire of Augusta-Margaret River president Nick Dornan said the council was looking at changing the role of the director of development services.

“It’s really looking at changing it to a position that more truly reflects the pressure the planning group is under,” Mr Dornan said.

“We need someone to take on some of the more serious (planning) issues faced by council.

“There’s just huge development pressure around here – it’s one of the fastest growing regions.”

The surprise move by the Augusta-Margaret River Shire comes just days after shire president Nick Dornan denied rumours that a senior official was exiting the shire.

Mr Boldy said he had parted with the shire on good terms and hoped to somehow remain involved in the planning issues in the region.

“I don’t think these issues will end and I’ve fulfilled my role,” Mr Boldy said.

“The council has interpreted things differently and they are yet to deal with that. I think you can glean a lot just by looking at the various (council) reports and looking at how they reconcile with council decisions.”

The council is currently advertising for a new town planning officer to “co-manage all development-related applications (including planning applications, subdivision applications and Town Planning Scheme Amendments)”.

The controversial beachside development at Gnarabup has provoked widespread criticism of the council from local environmental groups, residents and stakeholders.

On top of this, the council has been forced to face threats of legal action from the developer Gnarabup Beach and pressure to amend the town planning scheme.

Both councillors and stakeholders have also expressed concern that the shire has faced pressure from the developer, the State Government and from the shire to allow this development to proceed.

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