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Shire of Waroona beefs up power over major projects with creation of two new local planning policies

Headshot of Sean Van Der Wielen
Sean Van Der WielenHarvey-Waroona Reporter
The Shire of Waroona has adopted two new local planning policies to strengthen its hand over future major projects.
Camera IconThe Shire of Waroona has adopted two new local planning policies to strengthen its hand over future major projects. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/Harvey-Waroona Reporter

A Peel council is seeking to strengthen its hand “as soon as possible” to prevent worker accommodation developments being built away from the townsite and encourage integration with the community.

A new “workforce accommodation” and “social impact assessment” policy were in March approved by Waroona Shire councillors, to prevent a “free for all” for companies looking to build working camps in the region.

Under the first policy, proposals planned for outside of the Waroona town boundaries would be opposed in most circumstances, with differing design standards for short and long term accommodation.

The second relates to projects requiring approval by the State Government, with social impact reports to be requested by applicants in their proposals.

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Officers said the policy would allow for the council to lobby for conditions to be imposed on any approval, such as requiring a quota of goods to be purchased locally.

Waroona Shire president Mike Walmsley said a since-dropped work camp proposal had come before the council last year, spurring the creation of the policies.

“It is about keeping everyone happy,” he said.

“If someone asks a question, we have a guiding policy in place.”

Cr Walmsley said the policies were about looking after the well-being of both residents and the workers who would be using the camps.

“We are still quite keen to attract (the proposals) into the town,” he said.

“If they are not located in the townsite, it is about how does that affect the people living outside the townsite as well as the people working there.”

In supporting the policies, Cr John Mason said it was important the policy was implemented “as soon as possible”.

“It’s a difficult area to get right and having some solid footing will be very good,” he said.

The approvals for the policies came a month after a vote on them was delayed to allow further discussions on their final makeup.

It comes as Albemarle’s $126 million 850-bed workforce accommodation development for its Kemerton lithium hydroxide processing plant was given the green light in Australind.

At the February meeting, Cr Walmsley asked regulatory and development services coordinator Craig Zanotti what the benefits of that policy were if a proposal went to the Joint Development Assessment Panel.

Mr Zanotti was unclear about its exact effect, but used workforce accommodation proposals in a neighbouring council as an example of what may happen if the policy is not put in place.

“If you don’t have this policy, it’s a free for all and that’s what we’re seeing in the Shire of Harvey,” he said.

Mr Zanotti stated the State Administrative Tribunal had determined a council cannot reject a development plan if it is in line with its planning policy.

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