Five-star resort for Margaret River, locals concerned about coastal encroachment
Yesterday, the anticipated post-COVID construction boom got a shot in the arm with news of a five-star resort on the coast near Margaret River.
The 120-bed Westin Margaret River Resort and Spa - owned by Marriott International - would be built on the southern headland of Gnarabup Beach, immediately south of Surfers Point. Currently untouched coastal heath, the site has been slated for development for three decades.
In 1990, a proposal to build a golf course and associated accommodation by a Japanese Consortium was rejected. In 1995, a resort and retirement village were built on land on the east side of Walcliffe Road, yet the western side of the road remained untouched despite many development proposals over the years.
The proposed resort still requires final planning approvals, but it aims to include 45 luxury suites and 400 square metres of events space.
WA Premier Mark McGowan attended the site for the announcement and said the development is a show of optimism for the WA tourism sector. "It is a great opportunity for our state and a demonstration of confidence in our tourism industry and also our economy through a very difficult period," he said.
Tourism Minister, Paul Papalia, said Margaret River played a key role in attracting tourists from across the world. "Before the COVID crisis we had seen two years running of record levels of outer-state visitor numbers," he said.
"More tourists came to Western Australia from interstate and overseas than ever before in history and Margaret River was absolutely essential in attracting those visitors."
Local opposition points to the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge Policy which aims to conserve natural landscape elements of the southwest coastline. The resort will be the first of its kind on that stretch of coast to have direct ocean access. It's also built on a prominent headland breaking the natural sight lines.
Locals are also concerned by visitor numbers on Gnarabup Beach. President of the Margaret River Costal Residents Association, Adrian Wilson, told the ABC the local beach is already being impacted by costal erosion.
"The beach in Gnarabup is extremely unstable, it's down to about one entrance to the beach," he said. "The level of pressure on that beach is already extremely high."
Westin Perth will develop the site and general manager, Peter Brampton, said the current plans had taken the local environment into account.
"It's a low rise in keeping with the surroundings and being environmentally focused," he said. "It's two-storey high in parts."
The developers hope to start construction before the end of the year.