Smiths Beach in WA on the market after almost a decade mired in controversy
One of Western Australia’s most controversial developments, the 40.5-hectare Smiths Beach development site, is on the market.
The oceanfront land, mired in red tape for the best part of a decade, is tipped for a large-scale Yallingup tourism and residential venture.
An expressions of interest campaign is being run by Jones Lang LaSalle closing in late November.
The property is owned by a syndicate of investors, and JLL WA director of sales Phil Fogliani says they are considering a full-sale or a joint venture, depending on the offers received.
Compared as in the same class as Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, Lorne and Noosa Heads, the site is covered by the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge Statement of Planning Policy, says JLL, under which it is designated as a tourist node with a residential development ratio of 70% tourism and 30% residential.
The Smiths Beach project was the subject of a Corruption and Crime Commission investigation in 2007, which looked into the actions of former WA Premier Brian Burke, who lobbied the state government on behalf of developers. The CCC was told that Canal Rocks managing director and Perth real estate agent David McKenzie – a Noel Crichton-Browne friend – hired the Burke-Crichton-Browne-Grill lobbying team.
The CCC report concluded Canal Rocks secretly paid more than $47,000 to candidates sympathetic to their development in the Busselton Shire Council election and by-election in 2005 and attempted to delay a new town planning scheme so the development could be assessed under less strict conditions.
Burke was charged with five counts of lying to the CCC investigation and was acquitted on four charges.
He lost an appeal against his one conviction and $25,000 fine earlier this year.
Smiths Beach is about three hours’ drive south of Perth, at the northern end of the Margaret River wine region.
The project is still awaiting formal subdivision approval from the WA Planning Commission, but all other approvals have been secured.
The current plan includes up to 61 residential lots, seven separate tourism lots of up to 40 units each, and a 3.3-hectare resort site with about 250 units.
The net development area is 19.11 hectares, with the rest of the land reserved for recreation.
Elevation at the site is between 4 metres and 58 metres. The property was formerly owned by one-time British Conservative Party treasurer Lord Alistair McAlpine, who invested heavily in WA during the 1980s.
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No matter how high the population growth rate, it won’t create capital growth if developers generate an over-supply.