A three-year stoush over a controversial 24-hour petrol station in the heart of Dunsborough will continue to wade through legal waters for the foreseeable future after opponents lodged further appeals with the Supreme Court.
The Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel rejected the Puma Energy outlet on Dunn Bay Road last year to the delight of many locals and the City of Busselton, who vehemently opposed it, but developers appealed to the State Administrative Tribunal and it was approved in August 2017.
Opponents argued the idyllic South West town’s busy main strip was already serviced by two petrol stations and a third would make the pedestrian-heavy area unsafe, especially during peak holiday seasons.
SAT’s decision to overturn the SJDAP ruling was based on a city planning scheme loophole that allowed the petrol station to be categorised as a convenience store.
The loophole led to a flurry of legal argy-bargy between community action group Puma2Go, the SJDAP, the city and developers DCSC, a group of local investors who own the Dunsborough Centre Point Shopping Centre and adjacent vacant land now slated for Puma.
The SJDAP appealed the SAT decision in the Supreme Court in September 2017, based on changes in city planning laws that meant ‘convenience stores’ could not sell petrol.
In May 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of DCSC and that no further appeals against the development would be heard, a decision the SJDAP is now appealing.
Alternative sites for Puma station offered
In March, both sides of the political spectrum urged Puma Energy’s Swiss-based CEO Pierre Eladari to consider relocating the petrol station to Dunsborough’s light industrial area rather than within 300 metres of two rival service stations already at either end of busy Dunn Bay Road.
They argued a recent community survey showed 99 per cent of residents preferred the development in the industrial area, which would provide a better level of service to the community and was adjacent to a new housing development with no petrol stations, or convenience stores, nearby.
MPs told Mr Eladari the proposed Puma Energy site was in the middle of the town centre and on the corner of what the RAC listed as one of the riskiest intersections in rural WA.
Community members and the City of Busselton had also created a strategic plan to make Dunsborough’s town centre more pedestrian friendly.
Puma2Go spokesman Greg Milner said, at worst, the latest SJDAP appeal would mean a reprieve of a few months before the bulldozers moved in.
“The developers are now tied up in even more legal wrangling,” he said.
Dunsborough local and lawyer Peter Kyle said the SJDAP “clearly believe the Supreme Court judge made an error of law”.
“She got it wrong, in effect, in denying the earlier appeal against previous decisions by the State Administrative Tribunal,” he said.
No date has been set for the appeal hearing but Mr Milner said Puma2Go would keep the pressure on all stakeholders.
“We’ll continue to impress upon Puma and relevant politicians that 99.2 per cent of the community, as well as the City of Busselton, believe building a 24-hour petrol station in the middle of town is ridiculous, and will be a curse for years to come,” said Mr Milner, who added that more than 2,000 Dunsborough residents had pledged to boycott the business.
Developers DCSC and Puma Energy were approached for comment but did not respond to WAtoday queries.
Extracted from SMH