HAVE YOUR SAY
Hotel and heights on agenda as town plan consultation closes
BUILDING heights, “sustainable growth” and whether Airlie Beach needs a 10–12-storey hotel are all still talking points as consultation on the third version of Whitsunday Regional Council’s draft town plan comes to a close.
Whitsunday residents have until 5pm this Friday, October 14 to make written submissions about anything they like or don’t like in the current draft, which has lowered building heights from the previous draft in three precincts of Airlie Beach.
The consultation period is closing just as council has also received the “Norling Report” – a feasibility study into hotel demand in Airlie Beach. The report analysed the driving economic factors and associated risks, concluding a premium hotel of between 10 and 12 storeys at Port of Airlie would be of benefit to the town.
COUNCIL’S manager of strategic planning, Kylie Drysdale, who was acting director of the department until this week, has confirmed a development application for a 12-storey hotel could still be submitted even after the town plan was delivered at lower heights.
But it would be a separate issue on which the community would also have a say.
“By council setting heights in the planning scheme, we’re essentially setting a benchmark of what the community expects to see on a certain parcel of land,” she said.
“The town plan is about code assessable maximum heights and anything that doesn’t meet that code or that height goes back to the public in an impact assessable application.”
On Monday night, Ms Drysdale met with members of the Fight for Airlie Group along with new director of planning Neil McGaffin and strategic planners from their team.
Among the issues discussed were the difficulties a hotel would pose to business people with existing property management rights, the complexity of the draft scheme for the average “lay person” to understand, a perceived lack of advocacy for maintaining Airlie’s village feel within council and how much development Airlie did or didn’t need.
Ms Drysdale encouraged as many people as possible to take advantage of the current town plan consultation period before its close at the end of this week. She said those who had made submissions on the previous draft should submit again if they felt the council hadn’t adequately responded to their concerns “because that’s the only way of telling if we got it right”.
She said the advantage to adopting a new planning scheme included bringing certainty to the region, cutting red tape and generating jobs and development.
“We have to forward think and plan for the increase in population here and that means we have to make sure we have the appropriate infrastructure in place,” Ms Drysdale said.
“If we didn’t plan (for it), it would affect everyone.”
FOR THE FUTURE: Whitsunday Regional Council's manager of strategic planning, Kylie Drysdale, is encouraging residents to have their say about the latest version of the draft town plan before consultation closes at 5pm this Friday, October 14.
ARTIST’S IMPRESSION: The future of Airlie? PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED
MEETING: Fight for Airlie members met with council planners on Monday night. PHOTO: INGE HANSEN