City eyes urban racecourse vote

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

Mayor Gary Brennan and City of Bunbury staff are confident horse stable properties and urban residential homes can exist side-by-side as major plans to urbanise the city’s racecourse area are finalised.

After years of community consultation, Bunbury City Council will next week vote on putting a draft Racecourses Local Area Plan out for public comment.

The council’s plans to rezone underutilised land between the Bunbury Turf and Trotting clubs along with existing privately owned land has divided residents who live in the stables area, but council staff are hopeful they have struck a balance.

The proposed plan will allow for higher density residential in some areas and mixed-used commercial in others while also providing the option for existing stable property owners to subdivide and develop their land.

The plans have received mixed responses from the community, with concerns from some stable owners that they will be driven out of the area and support from others who own big blocks of land but are no longer involved in the horse industry.

It is predicted the proposed changes would provide 678 dwellings and a future population of 1558 residents for the area.

Mr Brennan said he believed the “competing interests” in the area were about 50:50 and it was a balancing act, but research had shown that stable properties and urban homes “can work”.

“We’ve got two positions there – one is that the people with horses don’t want to see any change that may impact on their stabling and training of their horses from that location,” Mr Brennan said.

“Then you’ve got the other position where people who have had horses or have bought into that area that no longer wish to have horses, want to have some flexibility regarding the future of their properties.

“What the research is showing — even in Belmont — is that you can actually achieve a workable outcome where you can have stables in a fairly high residential or urban area.

“I believe it can work because it’s been proven to work in other places.

“I really respect the views of property owners who don’t want to see change, but I think they do need to give the opportunity for this to actually occur.”

Councillors raised questions of compatibility at the council briefing session this week when planning and development services director Gary Barbour said it was an issue the working groups, including residents, had grappled with.

“There’s some residents in there who are looking at exiting the racing industry and are keen to subdivide their land and there are other residents in there who want to continue,” Mr Barbour said.

“The battle was trying to strike a balance between those two views and looking at a long-term transition for the area.

“The proposal is for a split code so it allows people who wish to remain there on their current properties as they are, but those who wish to develop have the opportunity at a higher code.

“We’ve looked at all of the different models and tried to strike the balance between the wishes of the various lot owners and also trying to make it work from a planning perspective.

“We think we’ve got that balance, however I guess through the public advertising process we’ll find out if the community feels the same.”

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