Dunsborough’s fight to save its main street

This website describes the three year fight the small, south west Australian town of Dunsborough has had to stop a petrol station  blight its main street.  A street that already has two petrol stations within 300m.   Please help us save our town’s main street.

Dunsborough urges Puma to think again

The Dunsborough community has urged the multinational oil company, Puma Energy, to rethink its plans and locate its new petrol station/convenience store in the town’s light industrial area (LIA).

In  a full page ad in Friday’s West Australian newspaper the residents of the small holiday town have asked Puma not to put its 6 bowser petrol station in the centre of town, adjacent to two other petrol stations.  Instead it should be located in the LIA where there is space and a demand and would allow it to provide needed services such as a car and boat wash.

Puma Energy, a Geneva based company,  has been expanding rapidly in Australia since entering the market in 2013 and has yet to pay any income tax. It has failed to respond to the town’s requests in the past and the company’s Australian general manager has refused to return phone calls from the mayor.

Government to appeal Supreme Court Decision-the battle continues

pumasmallThe government is seeking in the Court of Appeal to appeal the Supreme Court May 10 decision that effectively gave the green light to the Puma petrol station on Dunsborough’s main street.

According to the Department of Planning: The Southern JDAP has sought to appeal the Supreme Court decision not to allow an appeal on the SAT decision to approve plans for the Dunsborough PUMA service station.

The Supreme Court appeal to the State Administrative Tribunal decision was heard in February 2018. (see below for details.)

There will be a community meeting at Clancy’s, Friday, July 27 at 5:30 to plan further action.

Puma franchisee to expect no sympathy

The Puma2Go community group is warning potential franchisees for the proposed new petrol retail operation in Dunsborugh, they can expect no sympathy when the business is boycotted.

At this stage it appears the Puma development will go ahead in the town’s main street. but we all know just because it is legal, doesn’t mean it is right, a spokesperson for Puma2Go said.  “The five local developers need to remember that when you do something that runs against the wishes of up to 99% of the community it creates a lot of ill will.  That ill will doesn’t disappear when the first tree is cut down, or when the six meter Puma sign blights the skyline, it lasts for years. 

The developers will be giving a permanent six meter finger to the Dunsborough community, a memorial to their lack of respect for the wishes of the town.  And whoever acquires the franchise should expect no sympathy when they complain about a lack of business due to the boycott.  They have had plenty of warning.“ he said, in reference to the over 2,000 pledges to boycott the development. 

“It is not too late and the developers need to take a step back. take a deep breath and think about the best interests of their community,” he added. “Moving the developement to the Light Industrial Area makes more sense for everyone.”

Appeal dismissed-the fight goes on

The WA Supreme Court on Thursday, May 10 dismissed the appeal against the SAT decision allowing the development of a Puma petrol retailer in Dunn Bay Road. However the community group, Puma2Go has pledged to continue the fight against the develoopment in Dunsborough’s main street.

The appeal had been heard in early February and was in relation to a State Administraive Tribunal decision from August 2017

The decision comes quickly on the heals of a Notice of Motion passed by the City of Busselton council Wednesday urging the city work with the parties to move the development out of the centre of town and to look into enforcing the convenience store definition that limits the sale of fuel to just petrol.

City urged to restrict Puma sales to petrol only

Dunsborough residents are urging the City of Busselton to stick to the letter of the law and prohibit the sale of diesel at the proposed Puma “convenience store” in the centre of Dunsborough. The six bowser operation was approved as a convenience store under the COB’s old definition by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT). Under that definition, convenience stores can only sell petrol, while service stations can sell petroleum products.

Community group Puma2Go said Wednesday this restriction should be sufficient encouragement for the Geneva based petroleum retailer to move its development to the Light Industrial Area where it could operate as a full function service station, providing useful services such as a car and boat wash. This would be in line with community sentiment with over 99% of Dunsborough residents preferring the petrol station in the LIA rather than Dunn Bay Road, according to a recent survey.

Busselton made its position clear in its planning assessment at the initial JDAP hearing on the development “The land use of a ‘Convenience Store’ is where the retail sale of convenience goods occurs, and can include the sale of ‘petrol’ (but not, specifically, other petroleum products, such as LPG or diesel)” . This statement was not challenged in either SAT hearing or at the Supreme Court.

The initial SAT decision which allowed the development to proceed as a convenience store quoted an earlier Puma decision saying that “the primary focus and emphasis of the proposed development is on the retail sale of petrol and convenience goods commonly sold in supermarkets, delicatessens or newsagents, rather than on the retailing of fuel and petroleum products” and consequently the development was allowed to proceed as a convenience store.

The Puma/DCSC lawyer, Michael Hotchkin clearly understands the issue and in 2015 wrote that the definition of a convenience store includes “the sale of petrol”. Whereas a Service station, which would have been a discretionary development and therefore not allowed, caters for the sale of “petroleum products”. Also, the initial Puma plan shows just one fuel inlet for the storage tanks and it is designated petrol.

It is thought that the difference in fuel retail regulations was due to planners not wanting large diesel trucks and farm equipment filling up at convenience store locations, which would be in more residential or urban neighbourhoods.

Environmental lawyers tell the community group that the city could enforce the restriction by way of its compliance powers.

A Puma2Go spokesman said the town’s main street will be blighted for a generation due to the SAT following the letter of the law. “We are looking to the city to follow suit and make it clear to DCSC and Puma that if they want to proceed with a fuel retail operation in the centre of town, it will be restricted to petrol sales only.” the spokesman said.

MPs Throw Their Weight Behind Battle with Puma

Politicians from across the political spectrum have joined together to ask Puma Energy to rethink its plans for putting a petrol station in the middle of Dunsborough. In a letter to Puma Energy’s Swiss based CEO they have asked the company to listen to the wishes of the community. They call on the company to put its new petrol station in the light industrial area rather than within 300m of two other petrol stations in the centre of the busy tourist town. (more information here)

Supreme Court Reserves Judgement

The Supreme Court of Western Australia heard the appeal against the decision approving Dunsborough Puma petrol station development Monday, Feb. 12. The judge, calling the case unusual, said she will have to consider the matter carefully and will deliver her judgement “in due course”.

More information on the appeal is available here

Minister approves new Convenience Store definition

On January 24, 2018 the WA Minister for Planning, Rita Saffioti, approved the City of Busselton’s new definition of a convenience store.  This brings it in line with the state definition which does not include the sale of petrol. An interpretation of the old definition allowed DCSC/Puma to successful argue before the SAT that the 6 bowser fuel retail operation was a convenience store, making it easier to get planning approval.

Over 99% against Dunn Bay Rd for Puma-poll

A poll released this week shows that over 99% of the residents of Dunsborough do not want the Puma petrol station/convenience store in the centre of town.  The poll, carried out by the Dunsborough and Districts Progress Assn, surveyed more than 10% of the residents of the 6281 and 6282 postal districts (Dunsborough and the surrounding area)  and found  that 99.2% wanted the petrol retail operation on the outskirts of town, rather on than on Dunn Bay Road.

At the SAT hearing last February, the presiding member  (judge) threw out a petition signed by over 4,500 requesting the development not to go ahead.  She dismissed the petition as she could not be sure all those who signed were from Dunsborough.  For this reason, the survey was restricted to Dunsborough residents and ratepayers.

Under state planning law local governments (and DAPs) are required to take into account the impact of the development on the local community.

Puma Petrol Station in Dunsborough-The saga enters its third year!

In late 2015 the City of Busselton published plans by local developers to put a third petrol retailer in the centre of Dunsborough on Dunn Bay road, 300m from two other service stations. That plan and the subsequent  Development Appeals Tribunal (DAP) hearings galvanized the Dunsborough community and Puma2Go was created to fight the development.

In late September 2017, the  government appealed a decision by the State Administrative  Tribunal (SAT) that allowed the development. The Supreme Court will hear the appeal in Perth February 12, 2018.

The SAT decision, allowing a six bay Puma petrol station (disguised as a convenience store) to fill the second to last vacant block in Dunsborough’s main street-Dunn Bay Road was not surprising,  given the comments made at the hearing by the senior presiding member. However it was a big disappointment to the Dunsborough community. After the decision was announced the community met and decided to continue the fight. The DAP subsequently appealed the decision. The appeal was heard by the Supreme Court of Western Australia Monday Feb 12, 2018 and the judge reserved her decision.

This website sets out the issues and background and outlines what can be done to help prevent this development going ahead. If you have any suggestions or comments, please go to the Contact Us page.