Film industry a step closer in Busselton

City of Busselton councillors gave unanimous support for an animation, digital production studio, performing arts centre, hotel and residential complex on Harris Road and Peel Terrace in Busselton.

Over the next 18 months the city will undergo negotiations with Bunbury’s Vue Group to determine the terms and conditions of the development and potential lease of land or sale.

Vue Group managing director Alan Lindsay said it was great news which was made possible by state government committing funding to the Busselton Margaret River Airport.

“The airport is a huge plus for us,” he said.

“We are really excited, now we can put some real effort into planning and the resources to get it moving quickly.”

Mr Lindsay said the agreement with the city was an option period over 18 months and so far negotiations had been efficient.

He said the main thing was to get the perfect development on the site between the studio, accommodation, hospitality and other areas that were needed within the facility.

“Everything has to have dual purpose, the studio will also be a conference centre, the accommodation will be available to both the public and films to occupy the seasons for conferencing and studio stuff,” he said.

Mr Lindsay said they had to be realistic about how much they could achieve with the right mix of facilities.

“We are really looking forward to moving on it, we spent nearly two years negotiating this with Bunbury and did not actually get to an agreement on anything,” he said.

“Since we have been talking with the City of Busselton, which has been a really short period of time, it has been a terrific relationship.”

City of Busselton acting chief executive officer Cliff Frewing said if the development goes ahead as proposed, it would mean the city would become home to a modern film complex.

Mr Frewing said it was an exciting development and there were obvious synergies with other events and the tourism industry.

“And the fact that we already have a profile on the international film scene through the success of CinefestOZ and the increasing number of major productions that are filming here in the South West,” he said.  

“There may also be future employment opportunities associated with the establishment of this industry here in Busselton.”

Mr Frewing said apart from leasing issues, there were no financial implications for the city and the proposal met the stipulations of the city’s town planning scheme and economic development strategy.

“The city will need to negotiate terms and conditions for the lease of the site and the proposal will have to progress through the development application process but should that be approved any real challenges associated with the venture will be met by the Vue Group as commercial operators,” he said.