Ap­proval tipped for Co­ral Gar­dens

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - CHAR­LIE MCKIL­LOP

CAIRNS Re­gional Coun­cil is ex­pected to grant ap­proval for a con­tro­ver­sial devel­op­ment in a flood-prone area at Craiglie.

Plan­ning of­fi­cers have rec­om­mended the coun­cil give the green light to the re-con­fig­u­ra­tion of the 34 hectare block of for­mer cane land into three su­per lots which po­ten­tially paves the way for a sub­di­vi­sion of up to 291 lots. The coun­cil’s re­port notes the de­ci­sion would not im­ply ap­proval of the pro­posed larger devel­op­ment.

Di­vi­sion 10 Cr Ju­lia Leu said the Queens­land flood dis­as­ter re­in­forced the obli­ga­tion on lo­cal govern­ment to take ap­pro­pri­ate care and cau­tion and to learn from past mis­takes.

The ex­am­ple of nearby Port Pa­cific should also sound “alarm bells” af­ter sig­nif­i­cant costs had been in­curred by the com­mu­nity as a re­sult of re­me­dial works and lit­i­ga­tion em­a­nat­ing from lo­calised flood­ing, she said.

Cr Leu to­day in­tends to re­mind fel­low coun­cil­lors of their “grave re­spon­si­bil­ity” to pro­tect com­mu­ni­ties from the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact of flood­ing when the fu­ture of the con­tro­ver­sial Co­ral Gar­dens devel­op­ment site is con­sid­ered.

Cr Leu said it was clear the cur­rent ap­pli­ca­tion was a pre­cur­sor for a much larger res­i­den­tial devel­op­ment.

“The rea­son I op­posed the orig­i­nal pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval in May last year is there were too many unan­swered ques­tions and lo­cals cer­tainly in­di­cated they felt flood­ing had been and will con­tinue to be an is­sue on this site,” Cr Leu said.

“I’d cer­tainly like to know more of the de­tail. I think as lo­cal govern­ment, we need to be re­ally care­ful about how we pro­ceed with devel­op­ment ap­provals in ar­eas known to flood or likely to flood.

“What re­ally con­cerns me is the ap­pli­cant has pro­vided de­tailed mod­el­ling in­di­cat­ing wa­ter can be drained from the site. My first ques­tion is, where to?”

Col­liers In­ter­na­tional Cairns agent Jay Beat­tie - who acts on be­half of the New Zealand-based con­sor­tium of trusts and other en­ti­ties which owns the prop­erty - said the ex­ist­ing res­i­den­tial zon­ing meant the coun­cil’s town plan clearly iden­ti­fied the par­cel as “the area that is go­ing to be de­vel­oped be­fore any other” to meet fu­ture growth.

“If you ask me if the de­mand ex­ists now for res­i­den­tial land at Port Dou­glas, the an­swer is quite clearly ’no’ but at the end of the day, de­vel­op­ers still want to gain the rel­e­vant ap­provals,” Mr Beat­tie said.

“Hope­fully, by the time plan­ning ap­proval is achieved, the mar­ket will have re­turned to its nor­mal level and the de­mand will be there.”

The prop­erty, val­ued at about $8 mil­lion, was re­cently re­moved from the mar­ket af­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions with sev­eral par­ties failed to clinch a sale.

Mr Beat­tie did not deny gain­ing nec­es­sary devel­op­ment ap­provals would be a mar­ket ad­van­tage in terms of the po­ten­tial buy­ers and higher price it would at­tract.

He pointed out ex­ten­sive flood mod­el­ling and as­sess­ments had “quan­ti­fied and clar­i­fied” any con­cerns, adding some lower ly­ing parts would need to be han­dled “sen­si­tively” as the ap­proval process was pro­gressed.

“The coun­cil de­ter­mines the Q100 level, the de­vel­oper doesn’t,” Mr Beat­tie said. “The (cur­rent) ap­pli­ca­tion has been sub­ject to three sep­a­rate re­ports, each of them more than 100 pages each. It is not just a fig­ure plucked from the air, there’s an enor­mous amount of math­e­mat­i­cal equa­tion and tech­ni­cal as­sess­ment in­volved.”

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