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Blue Plains divided on development

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Nahrel Dallywater

Chittering is renowned for its relaxed rural lifestyle with many lured from the city for a tree change. With the new Tonkin Highway, it is now only 40-minute drive from city attractions, yet a place where wildlife, farm animals and humans still coexist in harmony. There are no shops, parks or other facilities and locals gather on their properties or at nearby Nesci Estate Wine Farm.

This is set to change as property owners seek to develop their agricultural zoned properties, diversify their income and capitalise on tourism opportunities opened by the highway extension. The Shire of Chittering approved two new rural event venues for the area at its council meeting on 19 May.

The first is a temporary development for the operation of weddings and functions at Lot 13 Chittering Road, Lower Chittering. The application is to host 12 weddings or functions capped at 100 patrons between 1 May and 31 October 2021, outside of the fire season, and received no objections.

The other is a permanent large-scale development set to cater for 900 patrons with a restaurant, car museum, mini-golf course and dwelling at 140 Blue Plains Road. Also known as Landing 7, the scale has been compared by some to The Camfield outside Optus Stadium and is due to open in late 2023.

The facility proposes to be family-friendly and suitable for a wide range of functions and occasions. The restaurant is planned to operate week round with Friday and Saturday opening hours from 7.30 am to midnight. Multiple seated dining areas including formal, indoor casual, underground and rooftop tapas, with a combined seating capacity of 765 people and 40 staff.

Shire officers were unable to determine the application under delegated authority, as objections were received during community consultation with residents within a one-kilometre radius of the site. A total of 24 properties were consulted with responses from 17. Of these, 7 were in support and 10 in opposition. A previous proposal to develop the site as a truck depot received opposition from nearby rural residences and did not proceed.

An area of particular concern for the community arising during consultation was the proposal for a tavern — not a permitted use of an Agricultural Resource Zone and being contrary to the rural lifestyle of the area. Instead, a ‘Restricted Tavern License’ with the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor may be sought to enable the venue to host private functions and corporate events where attendees usually want to stand, mingle and dance.
At the council meeting, questions were raised by adjacent Blue Plains Estate residents, some of whom objected as part of the consultation process, and may be directly and immediately impacted. Also present were residents of adjoining Hidden Valley and Chittering Springs Estates who were not part of the direct consultation.

Some long term residents of the area, whose houses could be within 550 m of the development site, have raised concerns the 250-vehicle car park could be as little as 200 m from their doorsteps. They are also concerned that the potential loss of amenity through noise, light and traffic may equate to a loss of property value, especially in an area where the ambient background noise is much less than other more populated areas and night sky is still uninterrupted by light pollution.

The presence of rare fauna along Blue Plains Road has been acknowledged by Chittering Landcare Centre and is recognised by the State Roadside Conservation Committee Flora Roads program, which encourages road managers to protect and conserve roadside vegetation of high conservation value. At the council meeting, a further condition was added to undertake a flora and fauna study.

Other issues raised were cost to ratepayers of widening the road and impact on flora; bushfire management; buffers; environmental health, clearing of vegetation and groundwater contamination from wastewater systems.