The West

Costs bill for Crown hotel opponents
Big bill: Some of the residents who took the case to court. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

Residents who lost their bid to stop James Packer's multimillion-dollar hotel development at Burswood have been ordered to pay the legal fees of the billionaire and State Government.

Neil Kidd and more than 100 other residents had their legal challenge to the $570 million third hotel on the casino site thrown out by Justice Andrew Beech this year.

Now, Justice Beech has ordered the group to pay the costs of Mr Packer's Burswood Nominees Company and those of the Government and Gaming Minister Terry Waldron, which could total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That is on top of the estimated $300,000 it cost the residents to bring the original action, and any costs of an upcoming appeal - which has already been lodged.

"Are we happy about it? No," Mr Kidd said yesterday. "Are we going to carry on trying to hold the Government accountable? Absolutely, yes. The reality is we see this whole process as a sham and we were denied any say in the planning process."

In March, Justice Beech ruled the 1985 Casino Agreement Act exempted the entire area defined as the "resort lands" - including the casino site and the former golf course - from State planning laws.

In the costs ruling released yesterday, Justice Beech disagreed with the assertion the residents' primary motivation in opposing the hotel was the public interest.

"This was not a case where the plaintiffs had nothing to gain from the litigation," Justice Beech said.

Mr Kidd and the residents are appealing against the original decision, with the Government and Mr Packer's legal team handed a deadline of June 12 to put their arguments. An appeal hearing date will then be set.

"We think the judge got it wrong," Mr Kidd said.

"We may have lost round one, but round two is coming up."

Construction has started on the six-star, 500-room hotel - branded as Crown Towers Perth - which is due to open in 2016.

The West Australian

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