Friday 28 November 2008

Paradise Palms steam rolling ahead

The Combined Beaches Community Association is extremely concerned over the preliminary approval for the next stage of development at Paradise Palms.

They asked the Council to reject the latest application on the following grounds:
  • 83 submissions against this publicly notified DA were received by Council. The lack of submissions was probably caused by the confusion that existed over what was advertised, then re-advertised, the misleading pamphlet information that was distributed locally and the large and complex 500 odd page DA documentation that had erroneous and misleading information contained therein.

    The Preliminary approval if granted overrides the planning scheme (2005 CairnsPlan), and removes the future right of public submissions for the Conservation Areas contained within this precinct should the developer wish to develop there. A CRC letter dated 31/10/2007, stated “that the likely development outcomes of this preliminary approval are inconsistent with the CairnsPlan and there must be strong town planning grounds to support the application because of its inconsistencies with the planning scheme, not simply ensure the financial success of a private recreation facility.”

    Council planners have failed to take the advice of the Referral Agencies (EPA and DNR) in relation to environmental conditions which is of great concern to the CBCA and condemns these natural and significant areas to an uncertain future.

    Failure to Justify Residential Need
    In a letter from Council dated 31/10/2007, it states that “significant justification needs to be given for establishing new residential areas of higher densities which are not in proximity to community services, centres and public infrastructure.” We, the CBCA believe that the developer has failed to do this, and to justify their claims they have over-exaggerated the catchment area. They have combined the Statistical Local Areas of Northern Suburbs and Barron which is an area that extends from Ellis Beach to Crystal Cascades and called the “The Northern Beaches Area. ” The resultant statistics are false and misleading. If they (the Consultants had only used the Northern Suburbs SLA which is more appropriate which extends from Ellis Beach to Smithfield, then have their case would have shown much less need.

    Existence of 18 hole Golf Course tied to Preliminary Approval

    It concerns the CBCA and the community that on page 366, the following statement is made….

    “The modified Paradise Palms Golf Course illustrated in the development application must be retained as an 18 hole course for the full duration and effect of the Preliminary Approval. If further development occurs, diminishing the ability to provide 18 holes, the Preliminary Approval ceases to have effect.

    According to the IPA, Preliminary Approvals are valid for 4 years, so in effect the RAS Vison Group are only guaranteeing the Golf Course for a further 4 years.

    Amendment to CairnsPlan which was not part of the Draft Submission for Public Comment which has been perceived as primarily benefiting a developer

    The current DA (#1886984, page 374) states “the development is reflective of the amendment occurring to the description of the Cairns Beaches Planning District which identifies that these forms of development can occur in proximity to the Paradise Palms Golf Course.”

This so-called amendment has been the subject of a complaint by the Combined Beaches Community Association back in January 2008, which the then Cairns City Council ignored completely.

The complaint was one of seven complaints relating to conflicts of interests, Councillor misconduct and lack of transparency in Council decision-making. The Council maintain that this amendment was a minor amendment, however, the modifications do make the proposed amendments significantly different to the proposed amendments as publicly notified in the draft CairnsPlan.

The two submitters for the amendment to be included into the Cairns Plan were by the RAS Vison and Hedley Group. They say that this demonstrated that Council have allowed these changes to specifically benefit a developer.

The public were never given a chance to reject this change and by law, they should have been under the IPA.

The Combined Beaches Community Association points out that the original Development Approval (some 500 pages!) submitted in September 2007, the developers talked about their “H” development. Essentially they only wanted to change the zonings for a designated area which included part of the golf course - the 9th fairway 'The Dunes', the driving range 'Savannah' and 'Kingslciff Peak.' They wanted to build about 650 units and townhouses in this area. Goodbye golf course!

Cairns Council planners sent out a series of letters in December 2007, requesting the developer to change their application which the developer signed off on. This change was talked about at the second Paradise Palms meeting at Kewarra Beach and they asked why the “H” area could not be singled out and only these zonings changed?

In a letter late last year, the developer says that the details of the change are at request of Council. The applicant then states:
  • ”specifically the Council seeks inclusion of the whole of the Paradise Palms Country Club development as land subject to application.

    Council’s rationale is that by including all the golf course and other aspects of the of the Paradise Palms Country Club development, it will ensure that there is a clear relationship between the golf course, other development areas and the approvals being granted.

    As such the application will now include all of Lot 4 on RP800876 and Lot 5 on CP891005 and an additional parcel being Lot 359 on RP105747”.

The area under consideration is similar to the original development approval: the “H area”.

Council Planners have done a real back flip here and essentially are not converting the entire area as they wanted the developer to do back in January.

Somehow, they expect the ordinary public to understand all this, imagine how our Councillor have consumed all this. They are clever clogs to move their development ahead in such a covert way.


Anonymous said...

You have to question who's cohorting with who on these so-called development applications.

When my wife and I wanted to build a rear patio late last eyar, those Council planner gave us huge grief, and we were only a small home owner. Yet the boys with teh big money seem to get want they want all the time.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the Cairns Post follow these debates? Surely such dodgy dealings are of huge concern for us residents?

Keith Martin said...

Dept. of Natural Resources and Water, in their capacity as a concurrence agency to this development application, surveyed and accurately mapped ten patches of Endangered Regional Ecosystems within the area covered by the application. Their condition on approval was that “no clearing of vegetation can occur” in these areas. Protection of these sites is regulated under both the Vegetation Management Act and the Nature Conservation Act (under the provision that they are also mapped essential habitats).

Council’s response to conformance with this condition was to place eight of the ten patches (those out on the golf course) under a vegetation covenant.

Significantly, the two unprotected patches are in the northern Deep Creek corridor, and the largest one is still within “Area H” (the large brown R1 area above the Area H sign on the map). These areas remain unprotected, and are thus available for future development. Even the southern Deep Creek corridor (apart from one small patch) remains unprotected by this condition, and this area was specifically heralded in the developer’s “Masterplan” as a wildlife corridor.

Small habitat fragments isolated on golf courses tend to support a homogeneous, urban adapted fauna compared to the richness of similar habitats nearby (S. Hodgkinson, Griffith Uni PhD study). There is now limited connectivity between the adjacent national park and the golf course patches because the large area of Endangered RE formerly at the rear has already been cleared for “The Woods” and “The Keys” developments, and this approval will result in further isolation.

It’s a remarkable example where the developer and Council have managed to provide the absolute minimum level of environmental protection that they can get away with, yet still tell the public that they are conservation-minded.

Another condition in this approval is to do with the Area H Boundary. This condition states that “The Precinct H boundary must be revised to tightly encompass the proposed precinct without providing a buffer..”. Now, while this might sound like a noble commitment, it actually creates a huge loophole. Nowhere in the developers DA is any “buffer” defined, and the boundaries of development are not yet finalized. Therefore, the developer can now negotiate with Council to vary this boundary (ie. the boundary of Tourism and Residential Coding) to suit their development. Council has voted to allow the highest density of urban development available outside the CBD to occur over an area that has not yet been accurately defined, and the public has no further say in the matter.

Amazingly, the Environmental Protection Agency is just an “advice agency” on this DA when it comes to matters of nature conservation and wetlands. This means that the Council can ignore their advice, which in this case they have. EPA advised that: Endangered REs should be protected from reconfiguration; Area H3 (Kingscliff Peak) should not be approved; and that the developer be made to rehabilitate adjacent World Heritage land it illegally cleared during the course of an earlier development.

Anonymous said...

Apparently it was a close decision yesterday to approve the Material Change of Use and over-ride the Planning Scheme of Cairns.

All I can say, if that is there is any other resident or small, business or developer who has ever had their MCU to change zonings rejected by the Cairns Council, then you should seek legal advice immediately, because it would seem that there is real and blatant discrimination going on here and you should be persuing legal action poste haste!

It would seem that the big end of town developers with plenty of muscle and money such as the Vison & Hedley Group can throw their weight around (and Rosemary Dash, the CEO has plenty of that, as well friends in very high places) and can intimidate and bully Councillors and who knows what, perhaps brown paper bags are also in the offing on this one?

This is the second MCU to over-ride the CairnsPlan in the last 3 years. Will it stop here? Is it only by chance that the 350 of the 650 townhouses/units are being built are being built in the middle of the Golf Course along the 9th fairway? Oh and by the way, this stage of the Master Plan proposal is over $500 million dollars worth of development, and another 17 holes worth of land to go into the for thought, eh.

The CairnsPlan is an absolute farce and every Cairns resident should protest this fact to the State Govt!

The Council Planners role in this has been contemptous and they have shown a complete disregard for the sanctity of the local planning instrument, the signifiant enviromental features on this site, the future visual amenity and the future of the golf course per se and the residents of Cairns!

"Real golfers" like the ones used to playing at Paradise Palms and who pay hefty fees for the privilige of playing on such a distinquished and premier course ,only play 18 holes, so I am told, and I am sure that real golfers do not want to be distracted by cars, people, domestic pets and so on whist they are playing. Likewise, it would seem to me that residents would not ever really feel safe living in the middle of a golf course cause golf balls can often go astray and end up in swimming pools, damaging roofs and windows, and not to forget the risk to human life or permanent injury. Someone, I know, got hit in the eye with a stray golf ball, and had to have her eye enucleated (ie. removed). No laughing matter!! Living in the middle of a golf course would not be a safe place to live I think. Sounds good but is it practical? Will these golfer's need to take out extra public liability and damage coverage if playing on either side of residences. Beggars belief really. More and more we live in a world of Idiocracy! Idiots dream up these ideas, and idiots approve them!!

Worrywart said...

Not sure about “brown paper bags”, but word has it that if you buy one of HS Vision’s new residences, units or land on Paradise Palms you have a strange Contract to sign. It includes Clauses like: no guarantee of a golf course in future, you cannot make submissions or objections on any future developments on Paradise Palms, you cannot complain about noise etc. from developments on Paradise Palms, and apparently you get a discount on the purchase price if you sign the Contract! Wonder how all that would stand up in Court?

Anonymous said...

While I could understand a clause not guaranteeing the Golf Course in perpituity (look what happened to the Novotel Golf Course at Palm Cove)not even HS Vision can put in clauses that opt out of the law, ie noise control, and no contract overrides an Act of Parliament. The IPA gives us the right to make submissions.

Anonymous said...

Re the Paradise Palms approval, the unconfirmed Minutes of the Meeting on Thursday state that the voting status was 6 votes to 5.

Leu, Cochcrane, Lesina, Forsyth and Pyne all voted against the approval, which leaves the other nodding donkeys approving it (the usual suspects of Bonneau, Blake, Cooper, Gregory, Lansky & it looks like our dear Aunty Val having the casting vote in favour (6).

Oh what a blunder. Our Mayor has just shot herself in the foot big time, and killed off all that hard won support on the Northern Beaches.

Her decision, I hope she will learn to regret big time. Her position as Mayor is now untenable and no doubt short lived. We have a Mayor who did not support the Cairns Plan in a major rezoning approval that involves the destruction of part of one of the most premier golf courses in Australia and reduced protection for the signicant conservation areas on the surrounding land. Instead, she rolled over, in favour of a developer whose proposal is worth $500 million dollars, thats right, $500 million.

Is Schier any better than Byrne?

Shame on you Val, shame on you!

I take this opportunity of thanking those Councillors who have shown integrity and courage to vote against this monstrous proposal.

Anonymous said...

The Preliminary Approval was:
carried with Councillors Leu, Cochrane, Forsyth, Lesina and Pyne voting against the motion

Anonymous said...

Have been to the Cairns First Website to revisit Mayor Val's "Vision". The RAS preface must have been left off in error.

Anonymous said...

The fact is, this website and other "lefties" and "greenies" in the community have sold us a pig in a poke.

The pig's name is Val Schier.

She continues to vote and support bad development instead of representing the views of those who elected her. She's a gutless politician, the worst kind.

You're partially responsible, Michael Moore.

Anonymous said...

I will continue to say, for the likes of Clifton Ratbags Rule, Mayor Val did not win the Northern Beaches, Mayor Byrne lost it. It wasn't just "lefties" and "greenies" who wanted to see a change in leadership. Mayor Val has another 4 years left in office to pick up the ball, otherwise she will be a one term wonder. I think the majority of the community know what we don't want so maybe we need to start getting a campaign together to find the candidate we do want. Rid ourselves of the "party politics" and run under a "Citizens and Ratepayers" ticket, maybe Clifton Ratbag Rules, you could be the first to donate to this campaign.
Personally, I am indebted to Michael Moore for setting up this Blog, so that the likes of you, Clifton Ratbags Rule, and myself can have equal "airtime" to put forward our views.

Anonymous said...

I want to share some comments about other people's perceptions of the once unique and beatiful facility built by Daiyko built in the early 1990s, Paradise Palms..... Particularly liked the last comment which was made in 2005, no doubt about the time of the first material change of zoning to allow for the 4 star resort on site.

“Paradise Palms is one of the great golf courses. Wedged between World Heritage rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, it offers a unique golfing experience and is the premier golfing facility in Tropical Queensland.” It was ranked Australia’s 9th best public access course in 2003.”

“Paradise Palms is the premier course in tropical North Queensland”

“Paradise Palms is without doubt one of the premier golf courses in Australia”

“Paradise Palms Golf Course is located 15klm north of Cairns. This world class golf course with sweeping fairways and undulating greens…..”

Great Course now destroyed by developers – Paradise No More
By A TripAdvisor Member, Santa Monica, December 2005

…..”previously owned by a Japanese Company but now purchased by a local developer known for downscale apartment construction. In order to squeeze in a guest complex (filling the tropical forest hillside with concrete), they have shortened several holes and reconfigured the course so that it is now too short for pro use, and turning the first hole into a par three is just a crime.

Another local course at Palm Cove has been completely sold off to developers for apartments as well. The beaches area of Cairns will no longer be a proper destination for golfers.

I cannot imagine what is going on in Cairns, where developers are running rampant with high density projects…”


Obviously, Val's Vison = Vison & Hedley group. Cheap and nasty small houses on small blocks seen at the once famous entrance to PP, dark and dingy high denisty units (84 in one block already built and in another, 150 units, yet to be constructed), with these units being allowed to be built in in areas once desiganted significant conservation areas. Somehow, there was a Council mapping error of the Conservation areas on this site, to the primary benefit of the now developer. Fancy that, eh? Not just one error, several.....

As for Val - talk about a trojan horse!!

Anonymous said...

At least five Councillors have the morals and good sense to see through the deceptions and pressures of the developers, their consultants and dare we say their own Council staff; the blatant disregard for State Government advice; and total distain for the public. We thank them for that - but what happened to our Mayor who won on a platform of environmental and community care? Why has she ignored the advice of the State Government and community groups? Why is she showing shades of our previous Mayor? Her vote could have turned the Council’s decision around. Shame on you Val – it may well be your downfall.

Anonymous said...

Surely there must be a way of forcing Val. to stand down.Are there any legal eagles ouy there with any suggestions on how this may be accomplished.We are in as bad a position now as when Byrne and his cronies were in power.