Approval tipped for Coral Gardens
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.”