Council sets cidery project conditions
Councillors have put stringent conditions on a proposed new cidery and future restaurant amid a rally by regional producers to shut the project down.
Food producers including Cloudburst Wines’ Will Berliner and Burnside Organic Farm’s Jamie McCall said the proposal was unsuitable for priority agriculture land.
Cr Felicity Haynes — who alone voted against the item at Wednesday night’s Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council meeting — said colleagues were “missing the point” green-lighting the venture.
“Do we want to have a restaurant there or do we want to restrict it to primary produce?”
A visibly frustrated Shire president Ian Earl said councillors had to support enterprise adding to the Margaret River offering.
However, concerns about limited local fruit production at the mixeduse cidery/winery and proposed restaurant and cellar door underscored debate.
Mr Berliner said the planning approval could undermine authen- ticity of the Margaret River wine brand. “This particular proposal that I am objecting to is doing it backwards,” he said.
“This is the sort of attitude we have that is diluting the character of this area.”
Former Shire president Mr McCall lashed planners for not citing the Shire’s policy on cellar doors, with advice saying the binding Local Planning Scheme did not require on-site fruit production unless councillors imposed the condition. Mr McCall said a minimum 85 per cent local fruit was needed under permits to market wine from Margaret River.
“It sends a strange message to the community,” he said.
Under changes led by Cr Pam Townshend, conditions would force the development to grow in stages, with vineyard and orchard planting the first step, followed by production facilities, with cellar door operations permissible once fruit production was proven.
Representing proponent Nick Morris, planning consultant Marc Halsall said his client agreed to the staging and reducing future opening hours to 5pm.
He saluted planners for their interpretation of the scheme and said on-site fruit production would be undertaken by choice. “It’s not a requirement, as the Shire planning department says, for all of that to be (grown) on-site,” he said.
Councillors questioned if the limited 5ha for vineyards, including 1ha for an apple orchard, were enough to fuel future production — though Augusta’s Kim Hastie noted the Shire was not asked to assess economic viability. “I personally do not like the development,” he said. “Despite my personal view, I support the outcome.”
Cr Haynes voted against the item because she saw the agricultural component as a box-ticking exercise to get a restaurant approved.
However, Cr Earl echoed comments by Mike Smart that the small landholding, created by past rural subdivisions, left little room for viable farming. “We have to give people the chance to get out there and have a go,” Cr Earl said.
Affected neighbours including Terry Hutchings feared a tavern on priority agricultural land set a precedent and would intrude on Burnside’s character.