Long-running plans for a major tourist resort on Crown beachfront land between Kingscliff and Salt, known as Lot 490, will be considered later this month when the state’s Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) begins its public hearing on the development.
The $105 million resort proposal by the successful tenderer for the lease, Leighton Properties Pty Ltd, has been dealt with by the planning minister under the contentious Part 3A of the Environmental and Planning Assessment Act, but was referred to the PAC because of the level of ‘public interest’.
The planning department has recommended approval for the resort on Casuarina Way, but knocked back the number of originally proposed units and bungalows from 180 to 127 owing to concerns over environmental impact.
The proposed resort, on a 44-hectare site bounded by Cudgen Creek and the beach at south Kingscliff with Casuarina Way dissecting it, has been mired in controversy since it was first mooted more than 15 years ago, with locals claiming public land was being taken over for private use.
The tender process for development and the realignment of Casuarina Way through the site were subject to much local politics from the outset. The road originally was proposed to run closer to the Cudgen Creek boundary but state government intervention led to its current location.
The project involves 127 units and family-size bungalows and associated facilities including conference centre, restaurant, bar, swimming pool, retail and amenity buildings, internal roads and parking.
Proposed facilities for the community at large include a children’s playground, multipurpose space, public amenities building with showers, toilets and change rooms, tennis and basketball court, cycleway and walkways, sport circuit training facility, various picnic shelters and a public pontoon at the creek.
A planning department report on the proposal says 49 submissions, including nine from public authorities, were received when the plan went on exhibition early in 2010 with 32 of the 40 public submissions objecting to the development.
Concerns included the impact on biodiversity, density of development, visual impact and integrity of the proposed tourist use.
As a result, the department recommended deleting 53 units, a 30 per cent reduction from the 180 originally proposed, to conserve threatened species habitat and mitigate cumulative impacts.
The department says the site is suitable for the resort project, which would provide ‘environmental, social and economic benefits to the region’ and was ‘therefore in the public interest’.
A plan of management for the Crown land, long coveted by major developers for a resort-style use, was adopted in 2005 following a lengthy planning and consultation process.
Leighton Properties was then chosen as the preferred developer and a steering committee comprising Tweed Shire Council, the state government and community representatives liaised with them during the planning process.
Some of the aims of the management plan include: ensuring the development is ‘consistent with the ecological, scenic, social and cultural values’ of the site; promoting the regeneration of degraded areas within the Crown reserve and adjoining land; and enhancing ‘the attractions of the site and surrounds in terms of tourist potential’.
The PAC hearing will take place at the Kingscliff Beach Bowls Club, Marine Parade, on Thursday 26 July, from 9.30am. Residents who want to address the meeting are being urged to register by calling Mrs Greyce Fernandes on 02 9383 2112 or emailing [email protected] by noon, Monday 23 July.