Despite being named – along with Broome and Exmouth – as one of Western Australia’s top three priorities for new tourism facilities, plans for a new caravan park in Lancelin have become stalled.
The state government’s Caravan and Camping Action Plan identified the small fishing and tourist town as an ‘extreme priority’ for a new tourist park … but concerns over coastal erosion and a ‘threatened ecological community’ of grasslands have put the future of a multi-million dollar caravan park in doubt.
Earlier this year – despite significant local opposition – the Shire of Gingin re-zoned eight hectares of bushland to allow the park to be developed, and the WA Planning Commission is currently considering the matter before making a recommendation for or against final approval.
The comprehensive plan allows for a park offering 127 caravan sites, 32 ensuite caravan sites, 32 camp sites, 9 safari tent sites, 15 drive through sites, 26 chalet sites, 39 park home sites, ablution blocks, 3.5 hectares grassed open spaces, barbecues, tennis court, pool and mini golf course.
However, erosion has been a major problem at the town, which has a permanent population of around 800, and the council already spends huge amounts of money trucking in sand to stop places such as Grace Darling Park being claimed by the sea. Although, the proposed new caravan park would be set be back 150 metres from the beach to allow for a rise in sea level, some fear that will not be enough.
WA Today reports that the Shire has been advised that ‘hard’ engineering options such as breakwaters would cause exacerbate problems along the coast.
Local MP, Moore MLA Shane Love, said the issue had split the small community.
“There are strong views on both sides of the camp,” he told WA Today. “People are worried about coastal inundation and that increasing use of that area will make it more vulnerable, and others are mainly concerned about the amenity of the back beach, while others think it’s great to have further development.”
Shire chief executive Jeremy Edwards said that, if the Minister gave approval, the shire would call for expressions of interest from developers to make the $15-$20 million vision a reality.
“We don’t have any form of that accommodation that would cater to the need,” he told WA Today. “We have a lot of holiday homes but there are a lot of stories about caravans driving into Lancelin and driving out again because there’s nowhere to stay.”
He said that if the area didn’t develop, the population could decrease.
“You don’t want towns remaining stagnant,” he said. “Lancelin’s been named a hotspot. Remaining as it is, it’s not going to happen.”