Caravan park’s $1m revamp
The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River will go ahead with a master plan to guide a $1 million-plus redevelopment of Augusta’s Turner Caravan Park.
It was not a clear-cut decision, made at a rare Augusta council meeting last week, with several elected members concerned about the eviction of elderly tenants and whether the project was worth the investment.
But Cr Mike Smart — who voted to support the long-stalled project moving ahead — said it was not ratepayer funds but the proceeds from caravan parks funding the plan to build new chalets and relocate other long-term park users.
Dissent among councillors was reflected in an hour-long break to discuss the confidential budgeting attached to the proposal, and then a series of complicated amendments put forward by members.
Councillors Peter Lane and Naomi Godden failed in a bid to defer the item for further assessment.
The final amended proposal was supported by five councillors, with councillors Godden and Pauline McLeod voting against it.
Objector Cr Godden said the plan raised questions about social housing, while Cr McLeod said the resolution “is like a whitewash for eviction when we (the council) feel like it”.
Cr Smart said the council was “compassionate”, but it “was not possible to work around those people in the dress circle”.
The decision paves the way for further lucrative consultancy work — Innoviv Park Services are the third consultants to work on the project since 2008 — adding detailed design elements to the concept master plan developed last year.
If the Shire receives at least eight expressions of interest, Turner’s Karri Terrace area will also be redeveloped as a priority project.
“It is recognised that this area of the park already requires significant infrastructure renewal due to its age and poor condition, all of which has been delayed due to its low demand and other higher priorities within the park,” the report said.
Long-term park users will have leases extended to May, with many attending last week’s meeting to voice disbelief the Shire would turf them out — and lose their annual fees — in favour of chalets catering to more up-market clientele.
South Perth’s Maurice Hayes said uncertainty around the redevelopment “scared the crap out of all of us”.
“People have been loyal,” he told councillors. “Why throw away the $150,000-$160,000 we give you every quarter?”
Cr McLeod voiced discomfort at several older permanent residents likely to make way for new chalets, while Cr Lane said it was crucial the redevelopment retain Turner’s laidback vibe and not create an “elite” riverfront area traversed by other park users.
“I really found that part of the plan quite objectionable,” he said.
Cr Lane also wanted more financial analysis and detail about placement of chalets, which would be delivered thanks to an amendment by Cr Godden.
Defending the project, Augustabased member Cr Smart said he rode through Turner almost daily, and acknowledged earlier, far more expensive visions for the redevelopment were “horrendous”.
However, “the ongoing benefits to the community are huge,” he said. “We are very concerned about getting this right.
“It’s hundreds of thousands of dollars of benefit that would then be put back into the park.”
Users required to move would receive “a degree of both financial and logistical support to relocate them,” the final resolution said.
Turner Caravan Park in Augusta is set for an overhaul after last week’s council decision.