Letters to the Editor: 24 November 2021

Thwarted in their efforts to put a Puma fuel station in the heart of Dunsborough, the owners have plans to erect a building that will dominate the CBD and change forever the character of the town.

I have no objection to the development of the proposed site, but the current design is poorly conceived and inappropriate.

At 6 storeys it is too tall. Not only is it out of character with the existing buildings, all of which are half the size of proposed building, but it is out of character with the whole village. Six storeys is bigger than anything in Busselton by half; even the new Hilton will be a third lower. Nothing in Margaret River's charming street front is above three stories.

Two very new developments have accepted that Dunsborough is not the place for high buildings. The design of the new Woolies, and the excellent new facility on the Pico Pico site, acknowledge this and have been widely accepted by the community.

This building will establish a precedent. What happens when the site across Dunn Bay Road is redeveloped as it soon will be? Or the centre of town? Or down Dunn Bay Road to the sea? Current town planning zoning allows this whole area to be up to six storeys or, with discretion, even higher. Try walking down Subi Centro on a breezy day. Or any city street. The canyon walls funnel and concentrate the wind and you're enveloped in dust and detritus. Or freezing drizzle or horizontal rain. And, for the most part you're in deep, unrelenting shade. Running East-West, Dunn Bay Road will funnel our easterlies up the canyon, and our westerly gales down. Pleasant public places such as Merchant's front garden will be simply blown away as will Meal Up and other alfresco entertainment?

Six storeys cast a large shadow, especially in winter when sunshine is at a premium. The proponents' plans show that Dunn Bay Road will be in perpetual shade in winter, as will the north-facing facades of the lower shops opposite. The garden-filled surrounds of the new Pico brewery will be shaded for most of the winter. So poor is the design of the new Puma building that over one third of their solar panels will be shaded in winter.

This is a selfish building that takes no heed of its neigbours, nor the sensibilities of the community.

In short an insult to the site and to Dunsborough.

Albert Jan Haak, Dunsborough (abridged)

I am following with interest the contentious developments that Perth coastal suburbs are experiencing. It appears Dunsborough is also in trouble as local government is overlooked in favour of the Perth big guns. Local council no longer have control on large projects.

The local residents first learnt of this development last week, and any submissions are required to be presented to the city by December 3. This is clearly designed to be passed before year end with no environmental impact studies undertaken - pushed through during the busiest time of year for many people. What kind of planner does not take into account a warming environment, and has not allowed for a treescape on the roadside? (I am not taken in by the green gestures drawn onto the plans.) The built environment without trees is 5% warmer. What kind of planner has not registered that Dunsborough is a "village" which has grown in a haphazard way? All the focus has been on the design of the building and not on the wider impact on the ambience of the area, and its contribution to future congestion of the surrounding roads. I am not anti development. I am anti developers that are not mindful of the impact of the community at large.

Bridget Haak, Dunsborough

The two tenders have been reviewed and the City of Busselton's officers' recommendation is to award Broad Constructions the tender for the proposed Busselton Performing Arts Centre. It will now be up to the councilors at the November 24 meeting to make a decision whether to go ahead as the chief executive is not exercising his Delegated Authority to proceed.

Cheaper carpet, a cold shell fitout of kitchen and artificial stone top for the bar are several of the changes to reduce the tender price below $38m. Where will those funds come from to re instate them later?

The City has only $12.6m in grants for the confirmed $44.5m cost of the project. The remaining $31.9m consists of $26.7m borrowings with an additional $5.2m from the City's reserves, including the sale of the old library.

The community originally wanted a performing arts centre and were offered a 650-seat $21m building. However, the City and councilors added conference and convention facilities, escalating the cost to a $38m building with extras increasing to $44.5m.

At the Churchill Park Hall last year in lieu of a Special Electors Meeting, the overwhelming majority voted a "no confidence" vote in the City of Busselton with regard to this project. Then at the community meeting the City held in the Underlup room a referendum into this project was unanimously passed. Both resolutions were ignored by the City of Busselton.

This year the City organised a survey to evaluate what the community wanted. This resulted in 34% wanting the full scope and design of the $38m building, 53% not wanting the building to go ahead at all and 11% wanting a smaller, cheaper option. Therefore 64% of the people surveyed did not want the project to go ahead as per the City's and councilors' recommendation. The City has wasted $25k of ratepayers' money for a survey that they ignored in addition to the two public meeting outcomes.

Not listening to the majority of the community and continuing on with this project, will have long lasting ramifications for our council for years to come.

Keith Sims, Busselton