‘Draft plan backs village’
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