By Stephanie Hale
The potential extension of The Esplanade along the beachfront at Scarborough is facing a major backlash from the local community.
The proposed extension is a part of the Master Plan for the redevelopment of the area put forward by the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (MRA).
The road would be extended at both the northern and southern ends and would link The Esplanade to West Coast Highway through the sand dunes at Scarborough Beach.
For the road to be extended in both directions, the MRA needs Council approval to broaden the boundaries of the Scarborough Beach Redevelopment area.
Vanessa Toncich, MRA Media Manager, said that the extensions are still being planned.
“The road extensions are in the preliminary design phase and are subject to further analysis, including 12 to 18 months of detailed design and environmental approvals,” she said.
In the Master Plan the MRA states these extensions will create a coherent beachfront boulevard, with improved vehicle access and extended on-street parking areas.
“The planned extensions of The Esplanade will create additional entry and exit points for people travelling to and from the beach and are also aimed at relieving some of the pressure on the Scarborough Beach Road/West Coast Highway intersection,” said Ms Toncich.
However, many local residents, environmentalists and beachgoers strongly oppose the proposed changes.
The Beach Not Bitumen organisation, which launched last Saturday, is made up of a number of groups who are against the road extensions such as Friends of Trigg Beach and Save our Sand Dunes.
The Beach Not Bitumen group think the extension of the Esplanade will attract more traffic and damage high conservation value sand dunes in the area.
They are also worried that rising sea levels will cause erosion that will create ongoing maintenance costs for City of Stirling ratepayers.
Holly Greenhalgh, supporter of the Beach Not Bitumen group, is concerned about the impact extending the road will have on the environment.
“The dunes there are so unique,” she said.
“It would be such a shame to destroy them,” she added.
The issue is currently before the Stirling City Council which will provide feedback on the proposed amendment to the Scarborough Redevelopment Area Boundary next Tuesday.
Beach Not Bitumen and the Stirling City Council were approached for comment.