Coun­cil re­jects BP pro­posal

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - War­ren Hately

The Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River coun­cil has de­clared it will risk a costly le­gal bat­tle to de­fend the char­ac­ter of Cowaramup, re­fus­ing and then re­ject­ing plans for a BP ser­vice sta­tion and Wild Bean Cafe on Bus­sell High­way.

A full pub­lic gallery cheered in sur­prise at Wed­nes­day night’s de­ci­sion, when four coun­cil­lors over­came re­cent an­i­mos­ity to refuse the ap­pli­ca­tion which had 297 pub­lic sub­mis­sions against it.

Leeuwin ward coun­cil­lor Mike Smart’s lengthy stint on the coun­cil was on dis­play as he of­fered an al­ter­na­tive pro­posal specif­i­cally out­lin­ing the plan­ning grounds for the de­ci­sion.

The re­jec­tion cited a fail­ure to meet the amenity and char­ac­ter of the lo­cal­ity, po­si­tioned in front of a res­i­den­tial sub­di­vi­sion without ad­e­quate bunds to stop the noise and lights of traf­fic pen­e­trat­ing homes as trade grew along with the town­site.

The vol­ume and strength of com- mu­nity sub­mis­sions were also cited in the al­ter­na­tive mo­tion, which echoed a warn­ing note in the coun­cil agenda alert­ing coun­cil­lors to the risk of le­gal costs if a de­ci­sion was not made on firm plan­ning grounds.

Res­i­dents were over­joyed by the de­ci­sion.

Out­side the meet­ing, Cowaramup res­i­dents said they were dis­ap­pointed their ward coun­cil­lors Ian Earl and Kylie Ken­naugh had voted in favour of the ser­vice sta­tion. Shire pres­i­dent Cr Earl moved the of­fi­cer’s rec­om­mended ap­proval when no coun­cil­lor stepped for­ward, sec­onded by his deputy.

Af­ter the mo­tion was lost and the re­jec­tion passed 4-2, Cr Earl warned coun­cil­lors the likely State Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal hear­ing could strip the care­ful con­di­tions put on the de­vel­op­ment by the Shire’s plan­ning de­part­ment.

Cr Kim Hastie used the same ra­tio­nale to ar­gue against the pro­posal.

“That tells me this is a pretty tough site if it needs that much scru­tiny,” he said.

Crs Peter Lane and Felic­ity Haynes also re­jected the pro­posal.

Cr Haynes said the de­ci­sion called into ques­tion the coun­cil’s role to de­fend com­mu­ni­ties re­gard­less of risks.

Cr Lane said many pro­test­ers had told him they pre­ferred a re­jec­tion and the risk of a worse out­come at SAT, “and that cer­tainly in­flu­enced me”.

Cr Smart said it was a case of coun­cil­lors stand­ing up.

“We still might lose, but we will do our best to win the bat­tle on be­half of the peo­ple we rep­re­sent,” he said.

Ear­lier, Cr Ken­naugh said it was the hard­est de­ci­sion she had made and had caused a fam­ily “rift”.

Af­ter in­vok­ing the spec­tre of Oc­to­ber’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tion, she drew gasps on say­ing BP’s colours were a bet­ter fit for Cowaramup than a Coles Ex­press.

Cr Earl de­fended his de­ci­sion, say­ing fore­cast growth meant the ser­vice sta­tion would be nec­es­sary. “And I have to say it will get there, be­cause it will go to SAT,” he said.

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