09/01/2007 - 22:00

Margaret River maps its future

09/01/2007 - 22:00

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With the population of Margaret River estimated to almost triple by 2031, the Shire of Augusta Margaret River has embarked on an ambitious town planning strategy to ensure its village charm is not blighted by future urban growth.

Margaret River maps its future

With the population of Margaret River estimated to almost triple by 2031, the Shire of Augusta Margaret River has embarked on an ambitious town planning strategy to ensure its village charm is not blighted by future urban growth.

A 30-year concept plan, endorsed by council last November and currently out for public comment, aims to avoid the problems of isolated housing estates, poorly placed infrastructure and repetitive urban sprawl plaguing some rapidly growing towns.

Funded by a $75,000 South West Development Commission grant, the plan identifies 11 integrated development sites spread over 663 hectares of land south and south-east of the town with room for 3,631 residential lots.

A new 53-hectare industrial area has also been identified south of the town, with 133 lots earmarked for industrial activities in addition to 61 lots for service and commercial uses on an adjacent 24ha parcel.

The concept plan is part of a broader spatial planning framework comprising detailed town-site, village and hamlet strategies, major infrastructure developments, land-use directives and a settlement hierarchy to ensure phased development.

Shire president Steve Harrison told WA Business News council was trying to avoid the pitfalls of short-term planning and give residents and potential residents more surety about where Margaret River was headed.

 “We don’t want to fall into the trap of planning short term and be constantly fighting a rearguard action,” Mr Harrison said.

“We’re trying to create a settlement that can grow and still be well connected to supporting services and infrastructure.”

The shire estimates that Margaret River will expand its estimated current population of 5,434 people to 16,222 people by the year 2031, with overall shire numbers increasing from a current population of 12,601 to 32,610 people in the same period.

The town of Augusta, meanwhile, which will have its own concept plan shortly, is expected to grow from 1,290 to 3,849 people by 2031.

During the past 15 years the shire has undergone rapid and sustained population growth of 4.58 per cent on average per annum. During the past five years, housing demand has increased by up to 5.4 per cent per annum, which council mainly attributes to both sea and tree changers.

Mr Harrison said a key part of the planning strategy would be the requirement for developers to meet a comprehensive set of criteria to show how they would deal with issues such as affordable housing, water conservation and the provision of employment opportunities and community infrastructure.

“By adopting this plan we’re saying up-front to developers, these are the areas identified for development and this is the set of criteria you will have to meet. We want to see best quality development and not this ‘next cab off the rank’ mentality,” he said.

Concept plans and town site strategies were not new to Margaret River, Mr Harrison said, but this time he hoped they would have statutory weight by being built into the district planning scheme.

A series of public workshops and presentations will be held in the coming months, starting with a workshop on the Margaret River Town Strategy on February 5.

Mr Harrison said the concept plan for Margaret River would be considered by council at the end of February and he expected the town site strategy would be ready for council consideration by June.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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