Shire of Murray expected to block research centre's attempt to sell alcohol to tourists

The Shire of Murray is this week expected to pull the plug on a new agriculture research centre's attempts to gain a liquor licence allowing it to sell alcohol to tourists at an on-site restaurant.

Not-for-profit CY O'Connor Foundation has been granted planning permission to construct the North Dandalup Research Centre on Del Park Road, with the facility earmarked as a hub for postgraduates and scientists to conduct research into agriculture.

The proponent says the centre will offer employment and innovation to the North Dandalup region and the project has been granted $2.5 million by the federal government.

However, the potential for an on-site restaurant serving alcohol and being operated by a separate company, Tillbrook Nominees Pty Ltd, has caught the Shire of Murray's eye.

If granted by the WA Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor, the licence would allow the research facility to sell alcohol at their proposed restaurant every day of the year, including public holidays, from 10am to midnight.

The restaurant would also be open to the public and target tourists, according to the Shire of Murray.

The item will be heard at Thursday night's Shire of Murray council meeting, with a recommendation from acting planning manager Rhys Bloxsidge that councillors object to the liquor licence being granted in its current form.

If councillors support this course of action, the Shire would advise the proponent that the potential restaurant would breach previously granted planning approval.

C Y O'Connor spokesman Paul Fitzpatrick said the collaborative group had been developing facilities to the benefit of the Peel region since 2015.

"An application for a special facilities licence was supported by the local authority (Shire of Murray)," he said.

"During the advertising period we became aware of an objection from parties associated with the North Dandalup tavern.

"Mindful that North Dandalup cannot support one let alone two taverns, we propose to be complementary rather than competitive, showcasing new approaches relevant to producers in Peel and to tourists.

"We are now aware that the local authority intends to appeal although we have not been advised of any grounds.

"When these are known, we intend to comply fully since it is not our intention to compete with the existing tavern."

The North Dandalup Research Centre has been in the works for a number of years and has had to overcome some initial hurdles.

The Mandurah Mail reported in 2016 that more than 70 local residents attended a public forum to voice their concerns over the facility.

In March 2019, North Dandalup families expressed concerns for their health after the town was engulfed by dust from the centre's nearby construction site.

The liquor licence application can be read here.