June 12, 2014
Bunbury is hoping to compete with south-west travel hotspots such as Margaret River with the development of the Back Beach Tourism Precinct.
The mixed use precinct will include public open space, commercial, entertainment and hotel facilities, as well as permanent accommodation.
The tourism precinct will face onto the beachfront and should encourage visitors to stay and discover what Bunbury has to offer, according to mayor Gary Brennan.
“We are looking for something really special for Bunbury,” he said.
Mr Brennan said a high-end development would show Bunbury had matured.
Taking advantage of the underutilised waterfront would generate activity, employment and tourism.
“This development will show a significant stroke of confidence in Bunbury,” he said.
“It will generate employment if there are hotels, short term accommodation, cafes and restaurants.”
The City of Bunbury has relaxed its town planning restrictions to encourage developers and ensure quality investments can proceed in the area.
“There is no point in having town planning restrictions that inhibit developers from developing, so what we have done with these particular lots is expand their use potential,” Mr Brennan said.
“This land has been vacant forever and we want to get activity happening that will give us economic benefit.”
Sam Morris, who owns Taffys candy shop in Bunbury’s waterfront shopping area at Marlston Hill, said he believed the Back Beach development would complement Bunbury’s other commercial areas.
“It really is a snowballing effect when you get more attractions in, and this is why the tourist precinct will be so viable to the rest of the businesses in Bunbury,” he said.
Mr Morris said the development would encourage more people to use Bunbury as a base for exploring the greater south-west, rather than just passing through the town.
“We want people to say to others in Perth, interstate and internationally, ‘there is this fantastic town that is really friendly’,” he said.
South West Development Commission tourism developer Mark Exeter said the project would “activate the Back Beach”.
“It will bring it alive and create a real vibrant focal point for both the local community and visitors to the area,” he said.
“It is really important, when you have an asset like the foreshore, to develop something that is both high quality and something that is user-friendly.
“By making Bunbury a more attractive place to visit and live, more people will visit or move to the area to spend money in the area, which benefits the community.”
Developers should begin work in about a year.