Coun­cil faces BP dilemma

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - Warren Hately

Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River plan­ning of­fi­cers met with the de­vel­op­ers of a pro­posed 24-hour BP ser­vice sta­tion this week to dis­cuss con­cerns raised in more than 300 sub­mis­sions from Cowaramup res­i­dents.

With pub­lic sub­mis­sions clos­ing last week, coun­cil­lors will have a tough job ahead of them when the gen­er­ally un­pop­u­lar pro­posal comes for con­sid­er­a­tion later this year, with few op­tions to re­ject the de­vel­op­ment out­right, and mod­i­fi­ca­tions able to be chal­lenged by the Bri­tish-based multi­na­tional oil com­pany in WA’s State Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal.

Cowaramup Says No con­venor Anne Parker told the Times ef­forts to high­light op­po­si­tion to the high­vis­i­bil­ity ser­vice sta­tion and ac­com­pa­ny­ing Wild Bean Cafe off Bus­sell High­way were frus­trated by more talk than ac­tion as she urged fel­low res­i­dents to con­sider how the de­vel­op­ment would un­der­mine lo­cal traders and dam­age the ham­let’s village am­bi­ence.

“It is clear that the de­vel­op­ment of a large, multi­na­tional-owned ser­vice sta­tion and at­tached fran­chise cafe are bla­tantly con­tra­dic­tory to the core val­ues and rec­om­men­da­tions in the Shire’s own plan­ning ref­er­ence doc­u­ment, the Cowaramup Village Strat­egy,” Mrs Parker said. “It rep­re­sents ar­chi­tec­turally, cul­tur­ally and eco­nom­i­cally every­thing Cowaramup was seek­ing to avoid in en­cour­ag­ing a unique, ru­ral village at­mos­phere.”

More than 150 res­i­dents at­tended a meet­ing in Cowaramup ear­lier this month, voic­ing unan­i­mous op­po­si­tion to the plan.

Some res­i­dents have also de­fended the pro­posed ser­vice sta­tion on so­cial me­dia, say­ing it would add con­ve­nience and of­fer jobs.

Business colum­nist and Cowaramup res­i­dent Bar­bara Maid­ment told the Times she thought the em­ploy­ment prospects of the ser­vice sta­tion would be min­i­mal but lo­cal gov­ern­ment did not have a role in ad­ju­di­cat­ing business de­ci­sions. Although Dr Maid­ment and oth­ers noted a ser­vice sta­tion had been slated for the site since 2006,

Mrs Parker said res­i­dents in Cowaramup Coun­try and Coun­try Vines had only been told the land was marked for “fu­ture com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment”.

“I don’t be­lieve any­body en­vis­aged the kind of BP and Wild Bean we are see­ing (pro­posed) now,” she said.

Other res­i­dents in­volved in de­vel­op­ing the Cowaramup Village Strat­egy said the BP pro­posal did not meet the orig­i­nal in­tent of the doc­u­ment. Site works for the sta­tion have al­ready be­gun.

Shire sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor Dale Put­land said most of the 313 pub­lic sub­mis­sions op­posed the pro­posal in part or as a whole.

“Sev­eral sub­mis­sions have ex­pressed con­cerns that the pro­posal is not in ad­her­ence to Cowaramup Village Strat­egy guide­lines,” Dr Put­land said.

“The Shire is meet­ing with the ap­pli­cant to­day (Wed­nes­day) to dis­cuss con­cerns raised in the sub­mis­sions prior to a re­port be­ing pre­pared for coun­cil. The ap­pli­cant will be given the op­por­tu­nity to con­sider the com­mu­nity feed­back and re­vise the ap­pli­ca­tion to ad­dress some of the con­cerns.”

Mrs Parker also listed an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour, ground­wa­ter run-off and the un­fea­si­bil­ity of the sta­tion’s de­sign for truck driv­ers as ad­di­tional rea­sons to re­ject the pro­posal.

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