Tourism development approved on Caves Road in Dunsborough

Lot 200 Caves Road sits one kilometre west of Dunsborough's town centre between Country Farm Life and Cape Villas. Image supplied by the City of Busselton.
Lot 200 Caves Road sits one kilometre west of Dunsborough's town centre between Country Farm Life and Cape Villas. Image supplied by the City of Busselton.

A tourism development on Lot 200 Caves Road in Dunsborough was given conditional approval by the Joint Development Assessment Panel on October 9, 2020.

Developers, Caves Road 1676 Pty Ltd plan to construct 58 chalets that will provide a range of accommodation options for family groups, couples and singles in a rural bush setting.

Caves Road 1676 director Tony Arias said 70 per cent of the site would be undeveloped with 30 per cent of the site having chalets.

Mr Arias said they would now be resolving a number of conditions that were given approval and hope to start construction early next year.

"While we have support from a number of government agencies we now need to tick off a number of conditions, part of that is bushfire management and another part is environmental," he said.

"This concept started two years ago when we first talked to City of Busselton officers and it has taken a lot of to and fro between the city, environmental and services agencies to a point where not every issue is resolved.

"We understand that but 80 per cent has been resolved and it is now a matter of fine tuning."

The developer still needs a clearing permit from the Department of Water and Environment Regulation before final approval is granted.

They must also gain ministerial authorisation to take or disturb threatened fauna under the Biodiversity Conservation Act prior to clearing.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services also require the developers to modify their bushfire management plan.

The Dunsborough Progress Association have outlined concerns over the development, with representative Tony Sharp saying they were concerned about the loss of critically endangered fauna habitat.

Mr Sharp said they did not want the panel to approve the destruction of 80 metres of road reserve trees that were western ringtail possum habitat and black cockatoo nesting trees.

"Under the plans as they now stand more than 82 metres of road reserve will be destroyed to make a turning lane," he said.

"Two critically endangered western ringtail possums were identified in the trees and there were two potential nesting sites for the endangered black cockatoo.

"If the clearance goes ahead it will be open up the development to the road and will be counter to the city's Local Planning Policy 4.6 which states that 'Development should be kept to unseen areas.'

"The city says in effect this area along Caves Road isn't great, so it doesn't matter.

"Sorry, it does matter.

"That stretch of road is still mostly tree lined.

"The neighbouring Cape Villas has done a good job of screening itself from the road.

"The city's own map regarding 4.6 shows this area specifically and says 'development should be kept to unseen areas.' Why is this law not being enforced?

"I hope you will agree that the western ringtail possum is listed federally as one of ten, nationally critically endangered species.

"One of ten.

"The Baudin's Cockatoo is listed as an endangered species nationally."

Mr Sharp spoke to the panel at JDAP to request experts were brought in before approval was given and that both state and federal clearance approvals should be required.

"If you are giving approval you are ruling this out, at least at a state level. Please do not encourage the community to lose faith in the planning process," he said.

This story Tourism development approved on Caves Road in Dunsborough first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.