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South West region poised to transform

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The South West of Western Australia is poised for a major transformation, with a raft of major projects set to lead the region into a new era of economic opportunity and quality of life.

Underway are game-changing projects such as the development of the Busselton-Margaret River Regional Airport, which will result in tourists being able to fly directly into the South West to holiday and attend events from late next year.

South West Development Commission acting chief executive officer Anna Oades said initiatives such as the Transforming Bunbury's Waterfront and Busselton foreshore redevelopment projects will result in the region becoming an even better place to live, work and invest.

"We're looking at a genuine transformation of the region," Ms Oades said.

"People will look back to this era and think a lot was achieved."

On Wednesday February 1, a sod-turning ceremony was held at the Busselton-Margaret River Regional Airport to commemorate construction beginning on its $69.7 million redevelopment.

The project will facilitate interstate flights to destinations such as Melbourne and Sydney, and international passenger and freight opportunities to South East Asia.

Early this month, forward works are beginning on the redevelopment of Bunbury's Dolphin Discovery Centre into a world-class tourist attraction, kick-starting the planned three-stage Transforming Bunbury's Waterfront project.

By the end of this year, the first stage of the Transforming Bunbury's Waterfront initiative will result in both locals and visitors being able to enjoy a greatly enhanced Koombana Bay foreshore, complete with an amphitheatre for events, areas for food trucks and markets, and an accessible playground.

Another waterfront going through a process of redevelopment is the Busselton foreshore, which is expected to one day boast four and five-star hotels that will allow holidaymakers to stay on the beachfront.

Works planned for this year include construction of a toddler's adventure playground, the development of a family-friendly restaurant/microbrewery and function centre, and the building of a new sporting pavilion.

It will also be a busy period for the second stage of the Manjimup town centre revitalisation, with a long-list of works getting underway including upgrades and improvements to the Manjimup Timber and Heritage Park.

It is also envisioned construction will begin on a multi-purpose recreation plaza featuring an outdoor gym and skatepark, and works will get started on the development of land for a possible future tourist accommodation venture.

In Margaret River, efforts to further cement the town as an international tourist destination will continue. For example, construction on the second stage of the Margaret River Perimeter Road is scheduled to get underway in May for the purpose of reducing the number of heavy vehicles on the town's main street, leading to improved safety for pedestrians and local traffic.

Linked to this, it is anticipated the engineering and landscape design for a project designed to enhance the appeal of Margaret River's main street will be carried out this year, with the view to works starting in 2018 once the perimeter road is completed.

And the West Australian coal mining hub of Collie will continue taking steps towards economic diversification.

"It's an exciting time to be in the South West as we see projects that will produce long-term economic and community benefits make the leap from paper to reality," Ms Oades said.

"We encourage people to think creatively about how they can maximise the opportunities these projects could potentially present."

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