Frenchies resort recommended for approval

By Chris Thomson | posted on June 7, 2018

DOUBTS remain over whether a $10 million gated development recommended for approval at Frenchman Bay will be a boutique retreat for weary travellers or an expansion of McMansions for the rich and famous.

On Monday, a State-appointed assessment panel will decide whether the project, dubbed The Frenchman Bay Retreat by owners MTK Ventures, gets the nod as recommended by City of Albany staff.

As previously revealed (‘Developers’ picnic at Frenchies’, January 11), the project at a 3.26ha site encompassing the former Frenchman Bay Caravan Park will have 24 two-floor villas and a caretaker’s residence with 76-seat cafe, kiosk and conference room attached if approved.

Last year, then Frenchman Bay Association President Tony Kinlay (‘Goode plan, wrong place’, October 19) and Traditional Custodian Lynette Knapp (‘A mighty Wagyl breathes here’, 23 November) said a resort at the former van park would be better, environmentally and culturally, than a controversial one planned for nearby Goode Beach.

Extracts of a Frenchman Bay Association submission seen by The Weekender support the direction of MTK’s application for the van park site, but say a more inclusive approach to the on-ground design could see an “outstanding” project emerge.

“A lingering concern is that the proponents intend to convert some of the units, which are, in effect, extremely large houses, into unrestricted-stay at a later stage,” the residents’ lobby group warns.

The Association’s submission was one of 11 to support the resort.

Twelve people objected to the project, including one who argued it would “have a terrible impact on the ecology of the adjacent beaches and other sites”.

“Given that a large hotel complex is already proposed in a sensible location at Middleton Beach, it seems the height of foolishness to destroy one of the jewels in Albany’s crown,” the objector argued.

Another objector submitted that plans for the resort revealed a “great discrepancy as it is neither a boutique hotel nor retreat”.

“The latter term is subject to interpretation but retreats are never described as ‘24 two-storey accommodation units with a double carport’,” the objector opined.

“It would be odd to take two cars to a ‘retreat’ and why a ‘retreat’ should also require it to be double storey with a large walk-in wardrobe and recreation room [sic].

“The plans are for time share apartments or a small estate development and should be described as such.”

MTK has advised that the three-bedroom, 208sqm, two-garage, ensuited villas will each have a strata title.

This would allow separate ownership of each.

City of Albany staff have recommended the villas be approved for short stay accommodation only, with any single tenant permitted to stay for no more than three months a year.

City staff have also recommended the eventual operator be required to maintain a register of occupants and keep a receipt book.

Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington and Councillor Bill Hollingworth will be the only elected members on a five-person panel otherwise comprised of State-appointed officials, to decide the project’s fate.

The panel meeting will occur at 11am on Monday at Albany’s council chambers on North Road.