CREDIT: Kaylee Meerton, Mandurah Mail
The developers of the contentious Point Grey marina have vowed to fight on after the Shire of Murray deemed the development “unsuitable”.
At a council meeting in March, Shire of Murray councillors initiated a Town Planning Scheme amendment to remove a marina as permissible use under zoning around Point Grey, following an assessment of the current planning framework for the development.
Tian An Australia’s proposal includes the construction of a 300-berth marina with tourism and residential properties on the western side of the Point Grey peninsula as well as the dredging of a 2.5 kilometre navigation channel across the Peel-Harvey Estuary.
Shire of Murray councillors, who already voted against allowing initial earthworks on the project to commence last year, cited concerns over the marina and channel’s environmental and financial risks.
The amendment to the Town Planning Scheme was approved on April 9 to now be considered by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC).
Tian An Australia chief operating officer Hai-Young Lu said the company was “disappointed” by the Shire of Murray’s recent actions.
“The council’s attempts to initiate an amendment to the Local Planning Scheme, which was considered in a secret manner without any consultation with the owners or the relevant planning and approval authorities, is highly unusual,” he said.
“The company is currently working through its response, but would like to reassure the community that it remains committed to delivering locals and visitors alike a vibrant, environmentally sustainable development that helps meet the needs of one of Australia’s fastest growing regions.”
There has been almost unilateral disdain for the development in the Mandurah community, with both councils, politicians and residents calling for a stop to the proposal amid concerns for the local waterways.
However, Mr Lu said his company were dedicated to developing the Point Grey marina in an “environmentally sustainable manner”.
“The project has been consistently environmentally assessed since 2012, with the most recent assessment by the EPA and the Environment Minister in 2018 that included a further public review of any potential marina construction impacts,” he said.
“The review concluded that there were no new or additional environmental issues discovered as a result of this assessment process.
“It should also be noted that the most recent decision made at State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) level regarding the project was made in relation to appropriate zoning and planning procedures and not on an environmental basis.”
Mr Lu said the development would instead be beneficial for the region’s local economy, creating jobs in both the short and long term.
“The proposed development… will inject millions of dollars into the local economy and provide future employment for thousands of local Peel residents,” he said.
“Point Grey will deliver approximately 4000 local jobs during construction and a further 1400 permanent jobs thereafter in a region that has traditionally recorded higher than average unemployment levels.
“The long-term benefits of this project will be delivered at a time when local jobs and investment are sorely needed.”
The developers had applied to have the Shire of Murray’s initial decision to deny their stage one application reviewed.
However, after the appeal was considered in a three-day hearing and the panel deliberated for about four weeks, the SAT upheld the Shire’s decision to block the initial work from taking place.
Mr Lu said Tian An Australia was “committed” to seeing the project through.
“While we are surprised by the Shire’s unorthodox approach, we are far from deterred by it and will continue to work with our key stakeholders to enable us to move forward and deliver Peel residents a development that has the future needs of the community front of mind,” he said.
“At present we are working on preparing an Activity Centre Plan to allow our development application to progress to the next stage which will be assessed and determined based on its technical merits.”
Public advertising of the Town Planning Scheme amendment is subject to the outcome of the EPA and WAPC reviews.
This article was originally published on the Mandurah Mail on May 6, 2020.