Bunbury stables plan tips sought

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Bunbury City Council plans to rezone underutilised land between the Bunbury Turf and Trotting clubs.
Camera IconBunbury City Council plans to rezone underutilised land between the Bunbury Turf and Trotting clubs. Credit: Graphic / South Western Times

Plans to rezone and urbanise Bunbury’s racecourse and stables precinct continue to divide residents who live in the area.

It comes as Bunbury City Council this week supported putting a long-awaited draft Racecourses Local Area Plan out for public comment.

The plan includes the rezoning of underutilised land between the Bunbury turf and trotting clubs along with existing privately-owned land, to allow for higher residential and some mixed-use commercial developments.

It will also allow existing stable property owners to subdivide and develop their land.

The proposal follows years of community consultation after initial talks to redevelop the area sparked public outcry in what deputy mayor Jaysen Miguel this week described as a “relatively hostile time”.

Bunbury City Council responded to emotional pleas in 2016.
Camera IconBunbury City Council responded to emotional pleas in 2016. Credit: South Western Times

But the plans appear to still be dividing the community with concerns from some stable owners that they will be driven out of the area and support from others who own land but are no longer involved in the horse industry.

The council was presented with residents’ arguments for and against the plans at its meeting this week when those opposing the rezoning were described as a “very small minority”.

Resident Mike Ferguson told the council he had been involved in the stables area “since day one” and the idea behind the precinct had “run its race”.

“The major players are all for moving forward – there is a very small minority with very few horses that are objecting,” Mr Ferguson said.

“I hope the councillors can see that the City of Bunbury needs to move forward in this project and not be stagnated in the past with an idea that was formed in the 60s and 70s that doesn’t work today.”

Michelle Larsson echoed support telling the council she represented the majority of stakeholders and it was unfair a small minority could “hold to ransom” the majority of people who wanted options.

“We have a couple of young, up and coming trainers – no one is asking them to stop training, we’re asking for a choice,” she said.

“The proposed changes will bring a breath of fresh air to the area ... the whole project is exactly what the City of Bunbury needs going forward.”

Karen Buswell argued that the urbanisation of the area would create a “hazardous environment” for trainers, horses and the general public while raising “considerable” health and safety issues.

Sarah Wall also told the council that the stables precinct should be preserved and not face an “uncertain future”.

“Every endeavour should be given to building it into the most desired and envied racing and training facility in the State,” Mrs Wall said.

In supporting advertising the draft plan, Cr James Hayward reminded the council it was going out for public comment and that actually endorsing the plan was an “argument for another night”.

Mayor Gary Brennan said advertising the draft plan for comment would enable the community to put forward its views.

“This is an important step in the process of adopting the plan which provides a 20-year vision for the future of the precinct and I encourage everyone who has an opinion to provide comment so we can ensure your voice is heard,” Mr Brennan said.

“We want to make sure we get this right and listen to those who will be most affected by the plan."

The draft plans will be advertised for 28 days on the City of Bunbury website and in the council’s administration building.

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