Southern exposure

THE rapid development of towns in the State’s South West has prompted many holiday-makers to look further afield.

Billed the fastest growing shire in the Great Southern, Denmark is experiencing considerable population growth, which in turn is supporting the local real estate market.

Figures compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal steady growth in the construction of new houses in the town of Denmark in the past four years.

The population of Denmark shire increased by 1.8 per cent in 2001 following an increase of 4.2 per cent in 2000.

The Great Southern Development Commission reports strong demand both for housing lots and small-scale agricultural plots in the shire.

Bunbury Land & Estate Agency managing director Greg Mason is currently marketing the Seaview Rise subdivision.

The estate is comprised of 21 oversized lots on a combination of pastureland and bush blocks.

The lots are priced between $110,000 and $180,000.

Mr Mason said there wasn’t a lot of stock available in Denmark at the moment.

“The buyers are a combination of locals and people building holiday homes,” he said. “It’s just a very picturesque area.

“And the price for the land [in this subdivision] is about the same as it was two years ago before the introduction of GST.

“The average price of lots is about $155,000 and most of them are around $130,000.”

The significant population growth has sparked some concerns in regard to appropriate planning for the region.

Denmark Shire president Colleen Donnelly said the area needed to be carefully and sensitively developed.

“From my perspective we support economic development in Denmark but it has to be sensitively developed,” she said.

The community is keen to adopt a different approach to the rapid development of towns such as Margaret River and Mandurah, Ms Donnelly said.

“I’m very confident in the fact that we can do it,” she said. “The main employment in the shire is tourism and hospitality and through these we’ve been able to grow.

“People chose to come here for the lifestyle and I think we’ll see a lot more people coming here in the future.”

While an influx of new residents throws up its own set of complexities, these can be managed through community consultation, according to Ms Donnelly.

“I think if you stay in touch with the community and the community values don’t alter, it can be achieved,” she said.

A study of Denmark undertaken by Curtin University’s Dr Brian Bishop 10 years ago is currently being updated to reflect changes the shire has undergone.

A strong property market and a shift in population demographics also had brought a new layer to the community.

“The retirees who have come here are a great benefit to the community,” Ms Donnelly said.

“We’ve seen a great shift in the level of experience in the community.”

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