19/03/2008 - 22:00

SW growth plan

19/03/2008 - 22:00

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From the satellite imagery it looks almost as big as the town it takes its name from, but the proponents of the 264 hectare Margaret River Estate insist the development will be in keeping with the area.

SW growth plan

From the satellite imagery it looks almost as big as the town it takes its name from, but the proponents of the 264 hectare Margaret River Estate insist the development will be in keeping with the area.

The swath of land that cuts across the Bussell Highway to the south of Margaret River’s township is a potential growth corridor as the once tiny dairy village faces the prospect of almost trebling its population within 20 years.

Augusta-Margaret River Shire is about to release its strategy for the town through to 2026, preparing to accommodate between 7,000 and 13,000 people, compared with 4,415 in 2006.

But shire director of planning and development services, Geoff Broad, said development to the south of the town, if it occurred, would be sensitive to the area and would not encroach on viable agricultural land such as vineyards.

Other plans mooted in the strategy are an eastern bypass to divert trucks, and further urban development to the east of the existing town.

The large block south of Margaret River town was bought a few years ago for around $18 million from the Weightman family and is held by a consortium including Satterley Property Development, Hawaiian, Heath Estates, and Webb Brown Neaves Group.

Mr Broad said the wide spread in the population growth forecasts required caution in predicting development, but suggested hamletstyle villages with an urban centre ringed by housing in more rural settings would be most appropriate to the town’s south.

“If there’s a high growth rate we estimate that land required to accommodate that growth could include a portion of that land,” Mr Broad said.

“It will depend on the extent of that growth.” Satterley Property chief Nigel Satterley said the consortium’s concept was in line with the shire’s thinking and would not impact on vineyards.

“We’ll build a very quaint Margaret River village if we can get it approved,” Mr Satterley said.

The development reflects the projected growth in the area and brings the Margaret River sprawl closer to a host of well-known wineries such as Leeuwin Estate, Xanadu Norman Wines, Voyager Estate and Watershed Wines.

Voyager proprietor Michael Wright expressed his reservations, both on the grounds of overdevelopment in the region and the potential for conflict between productive land users and new residential neighbours.

Mr Wright said protection for Margaret River in a similar form to that of the Swan Valley was needed.

Leeuwin Estate proprietor Denis Horgan was not concerned by development that was carefully planned, but said urban encroachment from Margaret River to the north of his winery and Witchcliffe to the south needed careful attention paid to it.

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