‘Draft plan backs vil­lage’

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Ni­chols

THE pro­po­nent of a re­tire­ment vil­lage on Fer­rero Rd, near the Port Dou­glas round­about on the Cook High­way, says his project al­ready fits with coun­cil’s draft plan­ning scheme.

De­vel­oper Steve Thomas has asked Dou­glas Shire to re­zone land from ru­ral to ur­ban, to al­low his re­tire­ment com­mu­nity project to go ahead.

Thor­ough read­ing of the 400-page draft plan, he says, re­veals many points that sug­gest his project ac­cords with coun­cil’s plan­ning phi­los­o­phy.

“It’s al­ready in the plan re­ally,” Mr Thomas said this week.

“There’s only one more step, and that is to ac­tu­ally do it. We’ve al­ready done needs assess­ment and the stud­ies of drainage and ev­ery­thing have all been done. So the be­gin­nings of it are al­ready sit­ting there in the draft town plan.

“The life of the plan is 10 years. It still doesn’t stop coun­cil mak­ing a de­ci­sion if they had enough in­tent at some point dur­ing the decade, but they seem to be very dis­ci­plined in stick­ing to the plan­ning scheme for the du­ra­tion of its life, so it’s prob­a­bly very un­likely this project would see the light of day un­til the next plan­ning scheme. So it’s ei­ther now or a long way away.”

Mr Thomas has lived on the prop­erty for a long time. He came to Port Dou­glas 20 years ago and built a se­ries of ma­jor de­vel­op­ments.

His house on Fer­rero Rd oc­cu­pies what he said may be termed a “12 acre life­style prop­erty”. It is poor soil and has not been used for farm­ing for years.

“It was al­ways in­tended we would do some­thing and this is the sec­ond time we have gone to the coun­cil with the re­tire­ment pro­posal.

“The first time was un­der the Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil.”

Now, six years later, Mr Thomas thinks the need for such a fa­cil­ity is even greater.

“Even in the coun­cil draft plan it talks about how this is a bal­loon of Baby Boomers coming through now, of which I’m one.

“And it seems there is a higher pro­por­tion of older peo­ple in the shire than there is gen­er­ally in Queensland, which would in­di­cate a seachange life­style or some­thing like that, I guess.

“There is a de­mand for it – I’m field­ing calls all the time from peo­ple want­ing to buy, want­ing to move, want­ing to know it’s ready. Peo­ple are coming through from our web­site want­ing to pick out their villa. There is ab­so­lutely no doubt there is strong de­mand for the prod­uct.

“But what’s be­come ap­par­ent over the last few months in our re­search is that there’s a ben­e­fit in hav­ing a green, sus­tain­able type of de­vel­op­ment.

“There’s an op­por­tu­nity to show­case the green type of de­vel­op­ment in the shire, it goes hand-in-hand with what the shire rep­re­sents – clean, green.

“The cur­rent draw­ings we’ve got out there are just in­dica­tive. In the past few months we’ve de­vel­oped some of these con­cepts fur­ther and I’m part of a group of peo­ple who are looking at elec­tric buses for the shire and re­ally do be­lieve it would be a great tourism in­cen­tive to have these buses, and charg­ing points for elec­tric ren­tal cars and things like that.”

Mr Thomas said the proposed lo­ca­tion was ideal for older peo­ple. It was close to all the ser­vices, close to town, and he en­vis­ages if it went ahead it would prompt ad­di­tional de­vel­op­ment at the Habi­tat shops, prob­a­bly in­clud­ing a doc­tor’s surgery and other sup­port­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

He stressed it would di­ver­sify the econ­omy away from de­pen­dency on tourism and farm­ing which were no­to­ri­ously cycli­cal. “This is sub­stan­tial enough it would bring another pil­lar to the shire in terms of bring­ing in peo­ple and in­come. Many of these peo­ple are com­fort­ably off and they bring money. And this estate would bring hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars of rates in­come to the coun­cil every year.”

Even in the coun­cil draft plan it talks about how this is a bal­loon of Baby Boomers coming through now... There is a de­mand for [this project] Steve Thomas, de­vel­oper

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