Friday 28 September 2007

Cairns Plan amendments fails community over hillslopes

Cairns City Council amendments to the CairnsPlan do little to assure the community that the city's scenic hillslopes will be preserved.

Mark Buttrose of the Save Our Slopes Community Action Group Inc. said it was a shame Council regarded development along ridgelines and on scenic headlands as appropriate.

Last evening's Council meeting endorsed a number of changes to the CairnsPlan.

"Our attractive hillslopes are an important part of our scenic landscape and the community has strongly indicated its support to preserve them," Mr Buttrose said.

"Council treats the community with contempt when it ignores these concerns."

Save Our Slopes provided a highly-detailed 60-page submission [SOS Hillslopes - CCC Submission.pdf note: size 9 mb] on just some of the many hillslopes earmarked for development in the council's Cairns Plan.

Council's response was tabled at its meeting on Thursday September 27.

"One surprise was changing the maximum slope permitted to be built from 1 in 3 gradient to 1 in 4 gradient," Mr Buttrose said.

"This sounds great in theory, but it's of little consequence regarding the Panorama Place development in Whitfield where the 1 in 3 gradient is not adhered to.

"Here we have slopes more than 1 in 2 being developed using what can only be described as extremely heavy engineering techniques. The Cairns Plan prohibits this, but it takes place anyway."

Mr Buttrose said council had zoned the iconic headland of Taylor Point and the ridge along the top of Whitfield Hill between Brimsmead and Whitfield as suitable areas for residential development despite the requirements of the Cairns Plan.

"This is in conflict with the desired environmental outcomes of the Cairns Plan that states prominent headlands and hillslope ridgetops should remain in their natural state," he said.

"The Council is inconsistent with its decisions to protect some slopes and not others." Mr Buttrose said the Flying Leap hillslope near the airport was a prime example of this lack of consistency.

"This slope requires rehabilitation, especially as provides an attractive first impression for visitors arriving in Cairns by air,"he said. "But Council has refused to provide any meaningful protection."

Save Our Slopes identified 24 hillslopes in its report, just some of the hillslopes requiring a greater level of protection.

"Save Our Slopes will continue to lobby State Government to ensure effective visual amenity laws are enacted," he said.

Mark Buttrose is also contesting the Council elections in March 2008, as part of the Cairns 1st Val Schier's Alliance team.

You can contact him on 0417 600 828 or by email


At the special meeting to approve CairnsPlan Amendments, the Council assessment of submissions was undertaken north to south of the City, with reference to the relevant Council Division.
Here's a summary of the submissions provided below:-

Changes Recommended

Council Division / Locality

All / Reconfiguring a Lot Code
All / Hillslopes General
Division 11 / Captain Cook Highway, Ellis Beach
Division 11 / Bokissa Road, Palm cove
Division 11 / Paradise Palms Drive, Kewarra Beach
Division 12 / Kennedy Highway, Smithfield
Division 9 / Brinsmead Road, Brinsmead
Division 9 / Butland Street, Brinsmead
Division 9 / Bel Air Drive, Whitfield (Whitfield Hill)
Division 9 / Ramsey Drive, Kanimbla (Marino’s Quarry)
Division 12 / Jenkins Access, Redlynch
Division 10 / Captain Cook Highway, Aeroglen (Flying Leap)
Division 12 / Leonard Street, Kewarra Beach

No Change Recommended
Division / Locality
Division 11 / Colonel Cummings Drive, Palm Cove (Buchan Point)
Division 11 / Foley Road, Palm Cove
Division 11 / Marana Street, Trinity Beach (Taylor Point)
Division 11 / Reed Road, Trinity Beach (Earl Hill)
Division 12 / Red Peak Boulevard, Caravonica
Division 12 / Stoney Creek, Kamerunga
Division 12 / Flindersia Street, Redlynch
Division 9 / Brinsmead Road, Freshwater
Division 12 / Redlynch Intake Road, Redlynch (Tognolini’s Corner)
Division 9 / Heavey Crescent, Whitfield
Division 6 / Collins Avenue, Edge Hill
Division 12 / Fairley Street, Fantin Close, McColl Close, Orminston Close, Stack Close, Willie Ming Close, Redlynch Valley
Division 12 / Lum Jim Street, Stapleton Close, Gavin Hamilton Close Redlynch Valley
Division 12 / Turpentine Street, Redlynch Valley
Division 4 / Bruce Highway, Woree
Council stated that the current Hillslopes Development Control Plans and the Hillslopes Overlay and Code in CairnsPlan recognise that it is important that the attractiveness of the hillslopes and
their value as habitat be maintained. The forested hillslopes above the coastal plain and river valleys are landscape features representative of, and uniquely characteristic of the City. They are features which make the City attractive to both residents and tourists and which contribute in distinguishing Cairns from other cities. The hillslopes are also an important habitat and form a link between the coastal lowlands and mountain ranges.

The majority of hillslopes have been included in the appropriate Hillslopes Category and
the appropriate Planning Area, as a result of the ongoing planning by Council and the
public consultation undertaken in 2004.
While there are instances where the Hillslopes Designation should be changed, it also recognised that:-
• Fine tuning the Hillslopes Overlay is best undertaken by the landowner/developer at
the time of an application.
• The Hillslope Overlay directs the land owner to the Hillslopes Code which contains
more detail than the Hillslope Overlay, so regardless of the line between the
Category 1 (Urban) and Category 2 designations the Code has effect
• Chapter 1 of CairnsPlan addresses these matters as follows:
The requirements of the Codes are to be applied in the following order (note the overlay itself is not the priority, it is the content of the Code):-
• Overlay Code;
• Planning Area Code;
• Land Use Code;
• General Code.
Council concluded that ultimately some of the grounds of the submissions received do have merit, and it is appropriate that prior to advertising the next round of amendments, an audit be undertaken to determine that the Hillslopes Designation and the Planning Areas are suitable for hillslope lots across the City.
SOS began in 1995 as a community action group whose focus was the preservation of Whitfield Hill for use by the community for recreational purposes.

From this start, SOS became aware that Whitfield Hill was not an isolated case and that many other hillslopes in Cairns were earmarked for subdivision . The present aim of the SOS Community action Group is to ensure Cairns residents are informed on issues relating to the preservation of Cairns hillslopes for future generations.

A wealth of information and resources, and additional SOS submissions, including the Council's appalling record on False Cape, are archived on Future of Cairns.

You may also find list useful Cairns and FNQ Green Directory


Anonymous said...

I was in the company the other night of a bloke who reckoned, with some bemusment, that he'd 'turned into a developer'. I'm not sure wether or not this was a conscious decision or he just woke up one morning with a need to make more money than he already had, but his comments on the subject stayed with me till well after we'd parted.
On the subject of hillside development, he offered "Hills are useless!THEY don't want us to build on low land because it's flood prone-THEY don't want us to build on hills sides BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE LIKE LOOKING AT THEM. Pretty soon they won't let US build anywhere!"
It was then I realised that this development debate is down to us and them and if the council does'nt put a tight reign on where and how much development is allowed in Cairns, SOME would pave the whole lot given the chance.
I know this was one person and there are those who are responsable, but these comments indicate that there are plenty of others who just don't give a damn about this place as long as they can make a buck.

Anonymous said...

Lets not forget the number of times clearing has occured throughout Cairns on the hillslopes WITHOUT council approval, only for no action whatsoever to be taken against the developer, CEC, because, surprise surprise, they were big donators to KB's election campaign. Gee they've gone from strength to strength since Byrne has been mayor. Coincidence?

Anonymous said...

Yes, does anyone remember the Stratford debarcle, where the 400 year old mahogany trees were allowed to be cut down? And what happened to the development...not one house has been built there. Margaret Cochrane has a lot of explaining to do on that one, dont you. You said in the community meetings we had that you would ensure they were charged with chopping down the trees, but alas nothing happened. Yes KB you were and still are lining your own pockets.