Ho­tel and heights on agenda as town plan con­sul­ta­tion closes

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Sharon Small­wood sharon.small­wood@ whit­sun­day­times.com.au

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.


MEET­ING: Fight for Air­lie mem­bers met with coun­cil plan­ners on Mon­day night. PHOTO: INGE HANSEN

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