The Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) has rejected a controversial proposal for a $30 million tourist park of 355 units, some up to three storeys, at Tweed Heads South.
The development, known as River Heights Tourist Park, in Firetail Street, was proposed two years ago by a Queensland-based property funds manager but was opposed by Tweed Shire Coucil, which assessed the plan, the owners of Gold Coast Airport, as well as community and environmental groups.
All but the chair of the state government’s five-member northern JRPP on Monday agreed with shire planners that the project should be refused mainly because of the development’s potential cumulative impact on the environment and on Aboriginal heritage relics likely to be found on the site and noise issues from the site being directly under an aircraft flight path.
Panel chair Garry West, a former NSW coalition minister, supported the plan, with members Pamela Westing (former Byron Shire general manager), Dr John Griffin (former Tweed Shire general manager), Dr Ned Wales (planning academic) and recently appointed member Dr Stephen Phillips (ecologist) voting to reject it.
Spread over a 17-hectare parcel of land straddling the western boundary of the Pacific Highway, the proposed tourist park, if approved, would have been the first major project to benefit from the new $17 million extension of Kirkwood Road which opened earlier this year.
The developers planned the park’s main entrance close to the new access for the highway.
The project proposal included onsite car parking for 375 vehicles and community facilities such as a store, function centre, swimming pools and barbecues. The units were in one- and two-bedroom configurations, in duplex buildings of up to three storeys.
Tweed Heads Environment Group (THEG) had criticised the project from the start, with group spokesman Richard Murray saying the developer may have been trying to ‘bypass’ normal residential building controls for urban water use, noise protection measures and adequate car parking by proposing the project as a ‘tourist park’.
Mr Murray said neighbouring residents would suffer a major loss of amenity as many who bought into the area years ago expected the land zoned private open space would remain so ‘and not change to an unacceptable usage’.
Council was told that the ridgeline area of the site is seen by traditional Aboriginal owners as an important pathway link between the coast and Terranora Broadwater and an ongoing archaeological and heritage assessment was carried out of the area, organised by the developers.
Their report said that subsequent Aboriginal monitoring of the Kirkwood Road extension had identified several stone axes on or near the proposed tourist-park site boundary and it’s believed to have been previously used as a traditional men’s place.
Bulk earthworks proposed included excavation and cuts of up to 27 metres in the middle of the tourist-park site.
The land is owned by the project’s developers, Proportional Property Investments Pty Ltd, whose directors are Gold Coast-based accountants Owen Yong Gee and Sian Zeukelis.