Laurance keeps SW sculpture

17/10/2007 - 15:44

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Laurance Cellar's controversial Margaret River sculpture, dubbed the "chick on a stick", will live on after the State Administrative Tribunal ruled against the Shire of Busselton by approving the artwork today.

Laurance Cellar's controversial Margaret River sculpture, dubbed the "chick on a stick", will live on after the State Administrative Tribunal ruled against the Shire of Busselton by granting retrospective planning approval for the artwork today.

The tribunal also approved an existing apple tree sculpture known as "Garden of Eden" at the estate's entry, which is associated with Laurance's reception and restaurant operation.

WA Business News first revealed in April that the Laurance family, directors of prominent development company Pivot Group, were appealing a decision by council to refuse planning approval for the 23-carat gold-plated sculpture "Free as a Bird" within an existing dam.

Council was concerned that the structure's 17.5 metre height and proximity to Caves Road, Wilyabrup, contravened several local and state planning policies and impacted negatively on the area's natural, rural outlook.

In handing down its decision, the tribunal said it was satisfied that although the structures were visible from Caves Road, they were of a size, bulk, scale, colour and height that were subordinate to the surrounding landscape.

It also considered the structures compatible with the rural character of the area and consistent with the intent of the established planning framework for the locality.

"The wineries and their entry statements are clearly apparent from Caves Road and form a prominent part of the visual matrix of the rural landscape and scenic quality of this section of Caves Road," the tribunal said.

Laurance Wines founder and chairperson Dianne Laurance said she was thrilled and relieved that the matter was now resolved, but criticised the Shire for a case she believed was a waste of money for all parties.

Mrs Laurance estimated she had spent more than $150,000 in legal and consultancy fees during the appeal.

"It's a huge waste of rate payers' money and of my time and money for a senseless court case...someone should be held accountable for it," she told WA Business News.

"I've always maintained I didn't break any rules or laws in erecting these sculptures on private property."

The Laurance family has owned the 40 hectare property since 2001, putting 21ha of the land under vine before opening a cellar door operation late last year.

The Shire of Busselton was unavailable for comment.

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