Augusta-Margaret River Times

The Preserve Gnarabup protest group is expected to lodge its scheme amendment application today for land under consideration for a proposed resort and village development on the Margaret River coast.

The bid could trigger council action for compulsory acquisition of the land parcels, estimated to be worth about $5.5 million in total.

It was hoped independent valuation of the land would be undertaken, the group said.

Preserve Gnarabup wants the site of the proposed Westin Margaret River Spa & Resort rezoned as a nature reserve to protect the location from any future development.

Group spokeswoman Beth Carlessi said Preserve Gnarabup had more than 1300 online members and a dedicated team of more than 30, who met again this week to discuss their fight against the proposal by developer Luke Saraceni.

“We’ve had all sorts of experts get in contact with us to offer their help, which includes past activists and people involved in the Fight the Bight campaign (in South Australia),” she said.

“It’s important to recognise that heaps of the community are opposed to (the resort). “It’s a large percentage of community members.”

Former Shire of Augusta-Margaret River legal officer Clare Gleeson was also offering her expertise as a solicitor for the planning process.

“The local government has the power to preserve land, and landowners are compensated,” Ms Gleeson said. “Retention of the site is entirely appropriate.”

Preserve Gnarabup said it was acting to protect the environmental values of the land, as well as its significance to residents, Capes Aboriginal people and the wider West Australian community.

Mr Saraceni told the Times he expected to lodge a fresh development application for the resort within 90 days, and planning for the associated precinct, which includes holiday apartments as well as units for sale, would move forward in tandem.

Last week, he also told the Times the State Government could intervene to buy the land, but he had no intention of selling.