25 May Mega Resort Splits Council
Update: The Coordinator-General has informed Gladstone Regional Council that they are considering overturning their decision to knock back the Hummock Hill Island development application, with a decision expected by the end of June.
Mayor Matt Burnett said he stands behind the decision which split council five to four: “We were expecting that this would happen,” he said. “It is a prescribed project, so the Coordinator General’s office, of course, have taken an interest, but I’m not worried about our decision.”
“The only legal instrument we have against which we can assess DAs is the Planning Scheme and it didn’t fit. If we’d knocked back the officer’s recommendation which is based on the requirements of our planning scheme, well, people would rightly complain about that.”
“We have a bit of wiggle room when it comes to the plan, for example, if we received an application for a five-storey office block in an area where we normally only allow four we might consider the surrounding areas and context: but this developmebnt is essentially an entirely new residential subdivsion in an area where there are no roads, water or infrastructure. They need to build a pretty major bridge to make the place accessible.”
“They call it an eco-resort, but it’s a residential subdivision with a resort tacked on. The developers say “don’t worry, we will look after the infrastructure for twenty years” but after twenty years and we need a new bridge, what then?
“It’s difficult to justify taking that on.”
Wednesday May 16
One vote was all it took to knock back the $1.2 Million Hummock Hill Island Resort – broadly supported by both the State and Federal Governments -at Gladstone Regional Council’s meeting on May 15.
Council split almost down the middle with councillors Glen Churchill, Desley O’Grady, Chris Trevor and P J Sobhanian supporting the mega-development with Mayor Matt Burnett and Councillors Bush, Goodluck, Hansen and Masters opting to reject the development application
Pacificus Tourism first brought a proposal for a 465 H master-planned community including accommodation for about 3400 people to the Miriam Vale Council in 1999.
Councillor Churchill said there is substantial State government support for the project, because of the economic stimulus it would provide, including an estimated 800 jobs:
“I made it quite clear in my previous life (Cr Churchill is a former CEO of Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Ltd.) that there was support for these types of development in our region,” he said.
Council’s Manager of Development Services, Helen Robertson, said while economic information had been provided “it wasn’t at the level that you would expect economic analysis to be conducted.”
Despite the development already receiving some state and Federal environmental approvals, grounds for council’s recommendation to give the DA the Big A, were largely based on its impact on the environment and its failure to comply with the local planning scheme:
Bordered by Clarks Road, Foreshores Road and Turkey Beach Road, the 1163 ha site has no reticulated water or services and is currently zoned parkland/open space.
The proposed Hummock Hill Island Resort would accommodate 2695 tourists plus a maximum of 770 permanent residents at peak capacity.
Fringed with mangroves, supratidal flats and rocky headland the DA failed to address several “Desired Environmental Outcomes” but as Mayor Matt Burnett said, the development“doesn’t meet the requirements of the planning scheme by any stretch of the imagination”
In rejecting the proposal, councillors expressed concern that after the establishment of the resort, the council was committed to servicing what was essentially a new town the size of Calliope, in the middle of nowhere.
They were also concerned that the establishment of Hummock Hill would drain community services from nearby established locations such as Agnes Water or 1770.
“Yes, there are direct community benefits –but not enough to outweigh the drawbacks, nor has an overwhelming community or economic need been identified,” Ms Robertson said.
The developer, Pacificus Tourism says they remain committed to the resort despite council’s rejection of their application.