Land development hope for Cossack locals

Shannon Beattie and Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
The Pilbara ghost town of Cossack.
Camera IconThe Pilbara ghost town of Cossack. Credit: Tourism WA

Long-suffering Cossack landholders could soon be able to build on land the State Government promised would become the “Broome of the Pilbara” more than 20 years ago after the local government ushered through planning changes allowing construction without essential services.

Development at the former pearling town has been prevented by myriad issues over the past 35 years.

The major hold-up in recent times was a special control area provision preventing development not connected to power, scheme water and reticulated effluent disposal, which is not currently possible in the town.

Last week, the City of Karratha passed local planning scheme changes which will allow landowners to build homes and holiday accommodation using off-grid power, water and effluent disposal.

The scheme change will now go to the West Australian Planning Commission for approval.

Mayor Peter Long said the City was now in a position to enable landowners to realise the council’s vision for low impact tourist development at Cossack.

“We understand Cossack landowners support this stance but ultimately the State Government will have the final approval,” he said.

Landowner and descendent of a Cossack pioneer Geoff Van Waardenberg said the plan the City has is very tourist based which is exactly what the landowners want.

“The previous planning scheme only allowed for urban development, this new planning scheme will change it to tourist zoning,” he said.

“That means any development has to be tourism based, so you can live there as a caretaker but you must supply accommodation or services for the visiting public.

“It fits in perfectly for my plan which is to build a bed and breakfast and I want to start that as soon as the changes are approved.”

Mr Long said decades of uncertainty in Cossack were a result of strict State Government guidelines regarding coastal development.

“At times, it has been a difficult and drawn-out process due to the complex nature of negotiations with the State Government regarding land tenure and ownership of Cossack facilities,” he said.

“The City understands and shares frustrations from Cossack landowners regarding these negotiations and we will continue to work with landowners and advocate on their behalf to achieve the best outcome.”

The City and landowners now await a decision from the WAPC.

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