Despite scrutiny from the State’s environmental watchdog, Port Hedland council appears determined to push ahead with a planning amendment that will allow a new 240-room hotel to be built in the West End.
The North West Telegraph reported last week the Environmental Protection Authority had stalled a proposed scheme amendment that would have involved Centurion Corporation building a new six-storey hotel on Anderson Street.
EPA chairman Paul Vogel said the council-backed amendment was “incapable of being made environmentally acceptable” until further studies were carried out on the health risks associated with dust from nearby port operations.
However, a report to be presented to council this evening recommends it reaffirm the decision to initiate the amendment while inviting the EPA to meet Port Hedland chief executive Mal Osborne.
The report questions the EPA’s stance on the matter, stating the environmental agency had allowed three other scheme amendments recently which increased the number of permanent residents in the West End.
Mr Osborne said the EPA’s view that council should wait for the release of a formal health risk assessment into the dust issue was not practical because it would not be completed until 2015.
He said there were large chunks of undeveloped land in the West End begging to be utilised.
“This land needs to be developed,” he said.
“From a Town perspective we are concerned that if development was curtailed in those areas until 2015 it would completely go against the Pilbara’s Port City Growth Plan objective.”
Mr Osborne said eliminating planning hurdles would be the key if Port Hedland was to achieve city status and it was frustrating to watch developers continually get caught up in red tape.
“There is an absolute imperative to try to drive development that is worthy of city status,” he said.
“We don’t want to be a community of temporary buildings and I think it’s very frustrating … it would be frustrating for developers who are willing to put the capital up and who are having hurdles put in front of them.
“We need to find a balance between supporting and encouraging development and ensuring the outcomes are good quality for the Town.”