A four-wheel drive testing track and a fruit and vegetable retail and wholesale market is set for Causeway Road joining the Yahava Coffee drive-thru and Puma petrol station in Busselton.
Developer and car dealer Ray Mountney originally bought the site more than a decade ago with the intention of relocating car dealerships in Busselton to the bypass area.
Unable to get approval, he looked at what could be done through a planning process, as the property was zoned for a special purpose service station.
Having done work with the Southern Forest Food Council, Mr Mountney knew there was interest from fruit and vegetable wholesalers and retailers driven by food growers in Manjimup.
“What has evolved out of that is a complex of 9000 square metres, which will become a fruit and vegetable centre and is due to open in February next year,” he said
The complex has been designed with tourists and freight in mind, to take advantage of caravanners which travel through the region, plus eventually tourists who will fly in and freight flying out.
“Back in the food council days we were keen to facilitate a showcase here which would be a gateway facility, bearing in mind all these tourists will flood in here.
“If we have a touch, taste and feel centre out on the Causeway that was a terrific servant to tourists, we would have a really good commercial centre and a really good attraction for the town as well.”
Last week, City of Busselton councillors gave the all clear for the four-wheel drive track to be developed behind the existing stores.
The track has been designed to allow people in the market for four-wheel drives or caravans to test drive vehicles and find out how their skill levels match the car's needs.
Mr Mountney said the area would be fenced off and a four-wheel drive test and evaluation track would be built with rocks, logs, banks, contours and a beach.
He said the take up rate of four-wheel drives in this marketplace was double that of Australia’s because of the places which could be accessed in the region.
“It is an outdoors place and a mecca for grey nomads who always buy four-wheel drives to pull their caravans, then go four-wheel driving up North as a consequence.
“Our view is, the fit between the right car, the right application and the capacity of people’s skills are a little bit disjointed.
“The capacity of the vehicle and caravan need to be matched for towing and total weight, it is not that well understood by the public.”
Mr Mountney said they would be able to take customers to the track for a test drive which would be enough to show the capability of the car and its technology.
“There are a lot of things in four-wheel drives now that people need to be aware about, there are a lot of things the vehicles can do and a lot they cannot do which can get people into trouble.”