A $5 million development styled on Adelaide Central Market could be operational in Busselton within 18 months after it was approved by the Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel.
The 3170m² development slated for West Street’s Power Centre managed to bypass Busselton City Council when developers took the proposal straight to the assessment panel.
The council had attempted to block the project based on concerns it would significantly detract from the commercial primacy, vibrancy and sustainability of the CBD – an area it is working to reinvigorate.
The concerns were reflected in the City twice recommending to the panel that the application be refused.
After initially being rejected by the panel, the developers took the matter to the State Administrative Tribunal where it was determined that the Joint Development Assessment Panel should reconsider its decision.
Last month the panel revisited the decision and approved the development application subject to stringent conditions.
The development will be a single-level pavilion style building and host a series of market stalls as well as dining and licensed areas.
Power Centre owner and developer Allan Erceg said the development would be great for the community, CBD and region.
“We’ll be looking at getting stall holders who sell fresh and organic produce, flowers, premium local wine, craft beers, arts and crafts, chocolate, soap, coffee – but all local WA products,” he said.
“It will be a showcase of all that the South West has to offer. Visitors can come, try things and decide where to head off to first.
“We hope to attract artisans, and people who really haven’t got an opportunity to sell their products. They will be able to set up for a week, a month, a year – depending on what they intend to display.”
Mr Erceg believed the development’s original refusal was due to a lack of detail in the application.
He said the process had clarified the style of business and how it would operate, noting he felt the market would only boost the local economy.
“We are wanting to enhance not weaken the economic environment, together, as a collective we are a strong magnet,” he said.
“From our point of view, this is exciting and no different to what Kmart and Aldi has done.
“Before those retailers were not in Busselton, and people were travelling to Bunbury or Perth. Those two outlets are attracting 20,000 people a week. I certainly don’t think we have let the town down and this development will be beneficial for Busselton and encourage new people in who might normally drive by.”
Mr Erceg and the design team travelled to Adelaide on Wednesday to meet with the operators of the hugely successful and iconic 150-year-old market.
Busselton Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Jo Richards said the market had the potential to complement the CBD, or be detrimental.
“If we get things right with the activation of the CBD, and get it happening before this development, it could add to the retail space,” she said.
“But we need to get this done with some urgency, as this will significantly impact business in the CBD, no question.”
City of Busselton planning and development services director Paul Needham said the Cityappreciated the panel’s work to address their concerns.
Mr Needham said the City was examining its planning controls to protect the integrity of the city and town centres.
“When the City or a Development Assessment Panel makes a decision on an application for development approval, the role is to assess the proposal against the planning law and policies that apply to the land – not make a broader judgement on whether a proposal is supported or not,” he said.
“If a local government considers that those planning laws and policies are no longer appropriate, then steps can be taken to change them.
“It is expected that proposals to strengthen those controls may be considered by the council in coming months.”