Beachport residents are fighting against proposals to open up more residential development in the town amid a housing crisis in South Australia’s south-east.

Jan Wilby is one of those worried that the quiet, quaint fishing and tourist town will lose its character.

“I’m really against it, because our town is unique and people love it the way it is,” she said.

“There’s not many places around like Beachport any more and it’d be a shame to have it go the way other places have gone.

“Getting more people, it’d just go on and on and on like it did with Robe and Robe has sort of lost its identity now.

“We’re unique here.

“People love coming here for the way the place is — calm and quiet.”

About 750 people live in Beachport year-round but the population swells several times over during the summer holidays.

The town is on a peninsula and two sides face the Southern Ocean and the other Lake George.

An area called Muggleton, which features larger rural blocks sits to the east of the town.

Beachport’s jetty has been refurbished.(ABC South East SA: Eugene Boisvert)

Shortage worsening

Wattle Range Council is proposing allowing smaller blocks and houses up to three storeys high along the foreshore in Beachport, as well as more development in Muggleton.

The plan would allow about 180 extra blocks in Beachport.

A consultant’s report presented to the council found Beachport had the most unmet demand among all the towns within the Wattle Range Council, with very little land available for sale.

House prices have risen from an average of about $250,000 in 2014 to $950,000 in 2023.

Lake George, which is famous for its birdlife, lies to the north of Beachport.(Supplied: Ross Anderson)

The council’s director of development services, Emma Clay, said a land supply needs analysis found there was “not enough land available for any growth in that community into the medium-term”.

“One of the main issues that we’ve heard from the community in Beachport is that there is nowhere for the youth to live,” she said.

“That will be perpetuated if we don’t do something about releasing some residential land, so the aim is for a lot of this to be for people that reside in Beachport.”

Robin Cassidy says some businesses find it hard to attract staff.(ABC South East SA: Eugene Boisvert)

Robin Cassidy, who owns a women’s clothing and accessories shop in Beachport said businesses in the town had trouble finding accommodation for staff.

“I know that that’s been [a] big issue and we’re a bit landlocked with development here, so there’s a couple of options and I suppose we have to all look at that and see whether they’re viable or not,” she said.

More than 200 residents turned up to a meeting last month in Beachport to discuss the “community vision” for the town.

Many were concerned about a rezoning proposal to allow development next to or on part of the town’s golf course.

Beachport Golf Club president Lyn White has led a campaign against the rezoning proposal.(ABC South East SA: Eugene Boisvert)

‘Don’t have any room’

Beachport Golf Club president Lyn White has arranged an online petition and has also collected signatures from those opposed to the proposal.

The council said the rezoning would allow more flexible development opportunities around the golf course, especially on one hectare of vacant land near the town’s lawn bowls club.

But Ms White said the land was too close to existing fairways and that the club could be liable for balls hitting house windows.

“The golf course is only a nine-hole course,” she said.

“We don’t have any room for expansion and if we have housing coming up using some of our fairways, then the golf course would be untenable.

“It might become a seven or a six-hole golf course, which makes it not a competition course any more.”

The salty Pool of Siloam is a popular attraction in Beachport.(ABC South East SA: Selina Green)

The golf club’s Wattle Range Council lease ends in a decade.

Council chief executive Ben Gower said it did not have any plans to sell land at the golf course and, even if it did, it would have to go through another round of consultation and a ministerial decision to remove its classification as community land.

Bruce Crossley, who recently moved to Muggleton with his wife, said he liked the fact that blocks were limited to 1ha each in the area.

He was concerned about whether enough bore water could be supplied to new blocks.

“What the impact of more people out there [would be] remains an unknown at the moment,” he said.

“It’s lovely living out there and we’ve got plenty of land.

“You don’t see your neighbours, you’re not interfered with by your neighbours — it’s great.”

Initial consultation on the rezoning proposal, as well as others in Millicent, Penola and Glencoe, has been extended until April 1.

The final decision on rezoning comes down to SA Planning Minister Nick Champion.

Get our local newsletter, delivered free each Friday