Posted on 26 August 2015.
SEPTEMBER 3 UPDATE: On September 1, a state assessment panel unanimously approved the Bannister Downs expansion plans, after the Shire of Manjimup agreed to withhold information from the public. Manjimup Shire public relations officer Gina Nieuwendyk refused to answer oneperth.com.au questions over precisely what information was withheld, whether any elected officials had a say in the process, whether any of them declared an interest in the project, and whether the shire acknowledged that obscuring the plans from public view was a factor in not one public submission being received on this town-transforming project. Ms Nieuwendyk initially claimed the council was “unable to comment on the basis that this application is part of a statutory process” to be considered by a state planning panel. Soon after the state panel had made its decision, oneperth.com.au relodged its questions with Ms Nieuwendyk. We received nothing from her but stony silence. You can read our unanswered questions here.
EXCLUSIVE: The tiny town of Northcliffe in Southwest WA is in for a big shakeup with a local dairy set to increase its output sixfold, and throw its doors open to busloads of tourists, thanks to a $22 million revamp catalysed by a cashed-up Gina Rinehart and obscured from public view during a recent consultation period.
Mrs Rinehart, Australia’s richest person, bought into Northcliffe’s Bannister Downs dairy in December last year.
Northcliffe, Population 412, sits about 350 kilometres south of Perth, and Bannister Downs is already one of the town’s main employers.
oneperth.com.au has learned that, if approved by a state assessment panel at a meeting in Manjimup’s shire offices at 2pm on September 1, the $22 million dairy overhaul (pictured) will allow Bannister Downs to operate 24 hours a day.
“We recognise that the new … creamery will have a considerable impact for the town of Northcliffe, bringing in tourists, visitors, workers and new business,” says a Bannister Downs document seen by oneperth.com.au.
“Despite its location, some seven kilometres away from the town centre, the new facility has an important civic role to play in creating a memorable destination for Northcliffe.”
oneperth.com.au can reveal that the pictured dairy has already received the support of Manjimup shire, after the shire agreed to hide details of the project from public view.
At the request of Bannister Downs, the shire took the unusual step of withholding information on the detailed operation and layout of the planned dairy from the Northcliffe community, in order to maintain the company’s commercial confidentiality.
At the end of a two-week consultation period that was advertised in a regional ‘news’paper, not one objection was lodged on the futuristic concept.
“None of the information that was removed affected the public’s ability to ascertain the type, nature or size of the development proposed,” asserts a shire document seen by oneperth.com.au.
The images, published here for the first time by a news outlet, but drafted for Bannister Downs co-owners Sue and Matt Daubney in May, were marked: “IN CONFIDENCE NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION”.
Bannister Downs was founded by the locally-prominent Daubney family in 1924.
Marketing itself as “global leaders in ethical dairy”, the company specialises in high-end milk products now available throughout metropolitan Perth.
The farm has reached its production limit of 5 million litres a year, and Bannister Downs wants to increase that sixfold, to 30 million litres.
A new dairy, milk production plant, 56-seat public café, offices and 59 car bays are on the cards in and around a 5000sqm, two-floor building.
Also planned are an automated milking rotary that’s capable of handling a herd of 500 cows.
Bannister Downs has told the shire it intends to keep focusing on the production of fresh milk and related products, including flavoured milk and cream.
The dairy says that making the plant accessible to the public will promote “the corporate image of Bannister Downs as a sustainable and innovative company”.
Images: Bosske Architecture, Mt Lawley.