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Neighbours put Shire of Irwin under judicial review for Illegal Tender Distillery Co redevelopment green light

Jessica MoroneyGeraldton Guardian
Shire of Irwin administration offices
Geoff Vivian The Geraldton Guardian
Camera IconShire of Irwin administration offices Geoff Vivian The Geraldton Guardian Credit: Geoff Vivian/The Geraldton Guardian

An award-winning Mid West distillery’s plan to expand has been put on hold while the business awaits the outcome of a judicial review submitted against the Shire of Irwin.

Dongara’s Illegal Tender Distilling Co was expecting to expand its operations to larger premises this year but neighbours submitted a judicial review to the Supreme Court questioning the council’s approval of the development application in June last year.

The application involved the distillery relocating from 35 Illyarrie Road to a new site at Lot 201 Brand Highway and expanding the site to feature a distillery, brewery, restaurant and cellar.

Concerns were raised by neighbours during public question time at the June council meeting about the potential impacts to primary water supply, heightened traffic and flow in and out of the site, anti-social behaviour from patrons and the risk of fire.

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The company is owned by husband and wife Codie and Hayley Palmer. Ms Palmer is deputy chair on the Mid West Development Commission board and was a Shire councillor up until her shock resignation on Thursday, January 25.

Codie Palmer and Hayley Palmer.
Camera IconCodie Palmer and Hayley Palmer. Credit: Olga de Moeller/TheWest

An Illegal Tender Distilling Co representative said the company had become a well-established brand in the local community, across Australia and internationally, and the emphasis for growth had to take place.

“Illegal Tender have always actively promoted Dongara as a sustainable tourism destination with the aim of supporting a diverse range of businesses within the tourism sector,” the spokesperson said.

“Their initiative always sought to stimulate additional revenue streams for establishments within Dongara.”

Shire chief executive Shane Ivers said the council supported the development application because it aligned with its strategic community plan, focusing on business expansion and increased tourism through enhanced facilities, activities and services.

“This has unfortunately resulted in dispute between the applicant, Illegal Tender, and their neighbours next to the proposed development site, leading to an application for judicial review of the development approval being lodged with the Supreme Court of Western Australia,” he said.

Illegal Tender Rum.
Camera IconIllegal Tender Rum. Credit: Derek Goforth/RegionalHUB

“The shire sought legal advice on the matter and as council has already supported the application, chose not to participate in the proceedings and accept the court’s findings.

“We are currently experiencing a period of rapid economic expansion in our region and council is working tirelessly to align the interests of industry with those of our local businesses and community.”

A Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed the judge has reserved her decision and it will be published online at a later date.

Ms Palmer and the neighbours concerned declined to comment.

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