History of Moore River South

It’s been a long, long story … an account of May 1993 – April 2012

A Sneaky Start.

In May 1993, a meeting was organised by the Shire to discuss a draft Gingin Coastal Structure Plan. The plan was a Moore River Company initiative, with no connection to the later State Government plan of the same name. The plan, many pages poorly photocopied, was presented at the meeting, which was asked to agree to it without further study. Though those present demurred, the plan was later quoted as justification for the subsequent rezoning application, which the Shire Council approved for advertising in October 1993.

The Balloon Goes Up! 1994

Early in January, small notices appeared on the Desert foreshore, advertising a proposed amendment to Town Planning Scheme (Amendment 22), to permit a rezoning application for 557 Ha of the Moore River Company’s land to “Urban Development”, a zoning at the time not defined by Government planning authorities. An initial 30 day response period was eventually extended to 90 days by the Council.

Fortunately a sketch plan of the proposal “fell off the back of a truck” and was publicised by the Guilderton Community Association (GCA), revealing the developer’s intention to offer 5,000 housing lots in the development. This attracted 250 people to GCA’s AGM on January 23rd! Similar numbers attended several subsequent meetings under various auspices and the proposal attracted over 200 submissions to the Shire, 85% against the proposal.

Despite this community response, which included several well researched papers advising against approval, the Shire Council approved the amendment, without any discussion, at a meeting in May 1994.

Conflict of Interest. 1994-97

During this time it emerged that the Shire’s Planner, Mr Alan Mappin, who had advised the Council to approve the plan, was at the same time acting for the Moore River Company. Thus he had recommended adoption of his own plan! Protests about this conflict of interest were lodged with the Council, the Minister for Planning and the Minister for Local Government. All three denied that any conflict of interest existed!

Subsequently, however, Mappin was reported no longer to be in the employ of the developer, but remained the planner for the Shire until December 1997, when his position was abolished in a Shire staff re-structure.

A complaint on behalf of the GCA to the Royal Australian Planning Institute resulted in a reprimand.

Gazettal and Workshops. 1995.

On March 3rd 1995, the Minister for Planning laid down 15 conditions to be met in the preparation of an “Outline Development Plan for that land in accordance with a process approved by the State Planning Commission and Council”.   This process included a set of workshops to establish “principles and guidelines” which the developer would have to follow in the development of his Outline Development Plan (ODP).

Well attended workshops were convened in August at Guilderton, Gingin & Woodridge. 14 of the 15 working groups reported against the proposal. The reports were never reduced to guidelines by the Council and the developer used the one working group in his favour as his guideline!

Outline Development Plan. 1996-9

During 1996 the ODP was prepared by the developer’s consultant with no reference to principles and guidelines derived from the community workshops, despite continual representations from the community. Public Submissions on the ODP, called for by the Shire in August 1997, produced 703 responses, the vast majority pointing out the numerous defects of the plan. All submissions critical of the ODP were summarily dismissed by Council.

In April 1998 an ODP with setbacks of 50m from the river was adopted by Council and forwarded to the WA Planning Commission.

However this ODP failed to meet the Minister’s original 15 conditions, so in January 1999 the WAPC agreed to a watered down Amendment 62 to replace Amendment 22. This change was achieved without notice to the GCA and by a process which did not allow appeals to the Environmental Protection Authority. A WAPC Officer (acting under delegated authority) approved the ODP even though it failed to meet most of the conditions laid down by the Minister in 1995.

Enter Labor Government. 2000-4

The new Labor Government soon made it clear that it did not favour the development, and the whole project seemed to go quiet for the next 3 years until suddenly in October 2003 the Company lodged a subdivision application with the Shire. Remarkably this application bore very little relationship to the approved ODP and the Shire recommended its rejection for several weighty reasons. A year later (late 2004) the WAPC advised that the sub-division application had been rejected.

Legal Tangle. 2005-9.

The Moore River Company quickly appealed against the WAPC to the new State Administrative Tribunal. In the meantime, the Government commissioned the Gingin Coast Structure Plan (GCSP) and set up a process of community consultation to finalise future plans for the Gingin coast. The final report, adopted in 2006, endorsed a new town planning scheme – TPS 9, and designated the south side of the Estuary as a “recreation and tourist node investigation area”. Giving statutory force to this designation was held up by a further complication. The Shire had sought approval for TPS 9, but declined, on legal advice, to re-zone the land back to rural, a condition the WAPC attached to approval of the scheme.

This complicated snarl of legalities held up progress on all fronts until the Carpenter government unexpectedly called an election in September 2008 and lost! Since the GCSP had no statutory force, the new Planning Minister was able to override it and announce that he intended to approve a scaled down version of the Company’s original plan, reducing it from 5,000 to 2,000 lots. He said that it was a fair compromise and we should be happy with it, but whether we were or not, that is what was going to happen!

New ODP awaited 2010.

February 2012: Revised ODP released subject to approval by Gingin Shire

The Facts According to FOMRE April 2012

On 3rd April 2012, the developer sent correspondence to WA MPS outlining their view of the facts about this new ODP.  FOMRE was asked by a number of MPs to provide their perspective.  This is a copy of the response letter sent to all WA MPs from FOMRE Convenor, Linda Johnson:

Moore River South Development.

After many years of frustration, the Friends of Moore River Estuary would like to remind you why this development should never proceed.

We understand that the Moore River Company recently sent you a letter where they list some ‘facts’. We would like to be sure that you are aware of some more facts.

In the early 1990’s Alan Mappin was employed as the Planner for both Gingin Shire and Mr Plunkett. At that time population projections for Guilderton were 30,000 people (15,000 each side of the river).

Amendment 22 was approved, and the land owned by Plunkett was rezoned from Rural to Urban, with no conditions, on Mr Mappin’s advice.

Our recommendations for environmental assessments at the time were ignored.

This mistaken Shire approval in 1995 is the root of today’s problem.

The population in the rural Shire of Gingin today is about 5,000 people.

According to their website, projections for 2031 are for about 8,000 people, total.

Lancelin is the logical place for this coastal growth. There is already infrastructure in place and urban developments are approved and proceeding.

The population of Guilderton is still less than 100 people. It remains a ‘holiday village’, with growth potential to the north and east. The surrounding estates are all ‘rural residential’. Services would be best provided to Lower Coastal Communities more centrally than here, in this ‘cul-de-sac’, cornered by the river and the ocean.

The ODP that was approved in 2000, for 13,500 people was then soundly rejected at subdivision stage by WAPC. That ruling was upheld by the State Appeals Tribunal.

In 2006, after years of extensive planning and environmental studies, the Gingin Coast Structure Plan was adopted by WAPC. It recommended that this land be zoned back to ‘rural’ and that the land be investigated as a Recreation and Tourism Node.

This recommendation was not acted upon by the Shire as it was threatened with legal action by the proponent.

In 2009 Minister Day reviewed the resulting confusion and sought a compromise by approving the urban zoning, but with the development size, reduced by 60%.

This was the time for a new ODP, subject to the new knowledge now available.

Instead MRC has sought to present a ‘revised ODP’ to circumvent current assessment and approval standards. 

The Revised ODP that has been recently advertised is a vastly inadequate document with deficiencies in many areas. As this ODP now stands, most of the detailed studies and reports that need to be included with this ODP have been deferred to some unknown time in the future. We understand that, as a matter of law, the proposed ODP cannot be approved subject to the requirements of future approvals.

Vague promises of ‘state of the art’ sewerage, uncertain water supply, ‘space’ for community facilities (to be provided by others, if ever required) are inadequate.

There is no local employment for 5,000 residents, nor existing nearby facilities.

The described development is no more than an isolated suburb, north of Perth’s metropolitan limit, that in 2012 should stand no chance of approval, as it runs counter to many State Planning Policies.

That ‘the proposed development will occur over an extended period of time’ makes clear that it is a long way from ‘ready’. Any ODP should only be approved when it is imminent.

The site also sits over the northern area of the Gnangara Groundwater System, with no certain water supply for 5,000 people on current understanding of water availability in the area.

To access the Leederville Aquifer, as the proponent suggests, remains an unproven and expensive idea.

As well as being bad planning it is catastrophic environmentally.

While MRC owns 2,000 hectares and much of this has been grazed for 45 years and is partially degraded, the ODP 557 hectares (and the 346 of the current plan) include Pristine and Excellent, Very Good and Good remnant bushland that would be destroyed by urbanization, including the ‘tourist resort’ development.

This remnant bushland connects with Wilbinga Reserve and is home to the threatened Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo and Graceful Sun Moth as well as many species of fauna and flora, as described in several submissions to the Shire.

That MRC can tell you that this land is of ‘NO environmental sensitivity’, when it actually requires referral to the Federal EPBC, astonishes us and is a perfect example of the ignorance MRC is hoping to get away with.

This Revised ODP must be completely rejected.

The Moore River Estuary is no Peel Harvey Estuary. It is a small and fragile area that would be severely degraded by the pressure of 5,000 more residents nearby who would surely wish to access it for recreation, even if they are living a kilometer away.

The nearest ocean access, aquatic and fitness facilities, aged care, child care, health and medical services, education and employment; are all in the metropolitan area to the south. That is also the place for any urban development. Moore River South is no place for a suburb.

We trust that the above provides the information you need to understand why this project must now be rejected and that you will also oppose this premature plan.