Wednesday 25 November 2009

Massive Palm Cove headland development "very inappropriate"

Today Cairns Regional Council will consider an extraordinary development application, that locals are calling "very inappropriate."

Preliminary approval is being sought to reconfigure 2 lots into 27 lots, by Cairns Properties (used to be Daysun Asiapac and Kenvite Holdings), on the coastal headland, just north of Palm Cove.

The Combined Beaches Community Association objects for a number of significant reasons.

"There are many important environmental concerns and vehicular access issues that make this proposal an inappropriate coastal development," president of the Association, Fiona Tulip says.

"This residential development is sited within the Wet Tropical Coastal Management District, Macalister Range. The site is shown on the Priority Shoreline Erosion Management Plan, and is very inappropriate."

Councillor Pyne has said he will not support the application.

"There are significant and compelling reasons highlighted by the local residents and I will not support this approval," Councillor Robert Pyne told CairnsBlog.

The following objections are of most concern for the local residents' association:

  • This site is adjacent to the Great Barrier Marine Park and is just outside the 100m erosion prone zone. Therefore, this site has the potential to be affected by climate change fluctuations, severe cyclones, tides and flooding.

  • This preliminary approval grants permission for operational works for destruction and removal of marine plants on both Lots, namely mangroves.

    "These mangroves are identified as being 'significant coastal wetlands', areas of State significance, and therefore should not be removed," Tulip says.

  • The subject lots are located within an area designated as having high coastal landscape values in the Wet Tropical Coastal Regional Management Plan.

    "Whilst the development is residential in nature, height, scale, design, can all have a detrimental effect on visual amenity, especially when viewed from the sea or adjacent lower areas," says Fiona Tulip.

  • Lot 1 on RP748655, has a significant waterways (classification order of 1 and Category 2, Regrowth Vegetation Map – DERM, and Cairns Plan 2005) which are the two highest classifications that exists.

    "It is also a great concern that the developer has chosen an access that involves a crossing of the Category 1 significant waterway," Fiona Tulip says. "This creek rises in the McAllister Ranges and flows eastwards through this lot to the Coral Sea, and exits just near the jetty."

    The Combined Beaches Community Association say that the developers must either put a bridge or other crossing system in place over this tidal waterway to gain access to the site.

    "To build this crossing, there will be significant interference in this tidal waterway and removal of riparian vegetation, destruction of mangroves, loss of fish habitat," says Tulip. "The tidal creek is within the Q100 inundation zone as well as residential lot 1 in part."

    " This means that special conditions would have to apply to make sure that access is maintained during a flood and inundation of property prevented, which will be near impossible, given our cyclonic conditions, storm surges, high tides and other unpredictable climate events," says Tulip.

  • Lot 1 RP748655 also has one section of Vegetation category (Cairns Plan 2005) shown as Category 1 (Highest classification), which follows the Category 1 waterway.

  • With significant ecological features such as Category 1 waterway, Category 1 vegetation cover, and the presence of mangrove wetlands, there is considerable risk of loss of biodiversity through habitat alteration, loss of habitat, interference in waterway flow, damage to riparian corridors.

  • The main vehicular access to 24 of the residential houses is via Williams Esplanade.

    There will be significant increases in traffic volume and type of traffic entering this roadway including construction and commercial traffic that will have a detrimental impact not only on holidaymakers staying in the caravan park, the operations of the jetty and movements to and from the boat ramp (vehicles towing trailers), foreshore pedestrians, and the current parking area. Issues of public safety would be a very valid concern in such a narrow strip of land that already has high pedestrian and vehicle movements.

  • Significant Hillslope categories on this site.

    This application should be deferred until a slope and contour map can be provided as this information will have an impact on the current proposed layout design. The majority of this site is greater than 1:3 slope which has not been identified in the submission and is justifiable grounds for refusing this application. Council Meeting Minutes of 13th May 2004 note the following:
"The Combined Beached Community Association are requesting that Cairns Regional Council refuse this preliminary approval," Fiona Tulip says.

"The is inappropriate for reconfiguration of these lots on significant environmental grounds and inappropriate vehicular access issues. The building of 24 residential houses will have unacceptable and irreversible impacts on this sensitive, high scenic value and ecologically important coastal site," she says.

They also note that approval of this application before the Draft Queensland Coastal Plan 2009 is adopted, in particular the State Planning Policy Coastal Protection, the development would be exempt from the proposed 3 Development Assessment Code which has very specific outcomes in relation to:
  1. Development being located outside erosion prone area

  2. Development in a storm tide inundation area
  3. Development in low/high hazard urban area maintains safety of people and can sustain
  4. flooding during a defined storm tide event

  5. Avoiding significant adverse effects on ecological values

  6. Avoiding adverse effects on areas of high ecological significance

  7. Not located within 100m of coastal wetlands or setback a sufficient distance from coastal wetland to maintain integrity, habitat, functioning of ecosystem, retention of wetland & riparian vegetation etc

  8. Avoidance of unacceptable levels of change to the scenic preference rating of the area

  9. Public access issues

"If this development application was approved after this new legislation is enacted, the applicant would have trouble meeting the development requirements under State policy," Tulip warns.

"Of course it goes without saying really but, this should not be the very reason why this application is approved now."


Miss Chief. said...

There are 2 types of development. Development by necessity and development for speculation. The first is probably inevitable but the second should be viewed with sceptisism and caution.
Development by necessity to provide reasonable cost residential accommodation is not exactly Palm Cove - nor should it be.
Our beautiful Palm Cove doesn't need to become a another Miami USA or Miami Goldcoast, for that matter.
It's amazing how many previously sound decisions with regard to developmental practice, are suddenly under the magnifying glass of the developers looking for loop holes.
We may need jobs in this area - but at what expense?
I'm behind Fiona Tulip and her crew, all the way.

concerned said...

Thanks for posting this article. Very interesting to see what will happen at today's meeting.

I imagine many people who aren't closely acquainted with the Cairns Plan would have mistakenly believed such a piece of land would have been National Park or publicly owned. Not in a Tourist and Residential Planning area.

Hopefully common sense will prevail and the preliminary application will be knocked back. I would be interested if anyone on the other side of the fence could possibly come up with a good argument why this development should go ahead.

Thaddeus said...

Development for development's sake.

Factman said...

Factman says ... bring it on.

It is not a matter of "... who could possibly come up with a good argument why this development should go ahead."
It's more a matter of ... why a land owner is denied natural justice.
That justice being, not allowed to share their land with others.

This development is no different to many similar in Palm Cove. This proposal will continue to enhance the region as a wonderful tourism centre bringing with it, the benefits of local employment and general well being.

The site is within the tourist development zone and provided the owners can meet with the tough but meaningful conditions laid down by Council's professional planners, then it should be allowed to go ahead.

A rejection will only see the matter in front of the tribunal in Brisbane, (at ratepayer expense), where it will get overturned and approved.

And if you read the Council's planners recommendations carefully, you will see that the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources has instructed Council to approve.

End of story ... and that's a fact.

dallas said...

Oh dear.

FActman is once again displaying his lack of facts or at least an understanding of the facts. A concurrence agency (as the Dept Of Environment and Resource Management was in this case) under the Integrated Planning Act cannot “instruct” an assessment manager (Council in this case) to approve such an application, nor can it “direct” an assessment manager to refuse it. Each referral agency, including the assessment manager makes its own decision, the assessment manager issues the decision notice.

A concurrence agency response, either approves an application, in full or in part, with conditions attached or refuses it, the applicant needs all concurrence agencies to approve the application, if any one of the them refuses it, the application fails. It’s really mind numbing stuff but have a read of the Act, particularly Chapter 3 Part 5.

This notion of trying to shift the blame to the State Government is rather tiresome and pathetic, somewhat like the State Government itself, along with KB, Sno, Warren, Jim, Desley etc and most of the other windbags pretending or wanting to be community representatives. Out with the lot of them, any fresh face would be better than re-electing past mistakes.

Whilst I personally wouldn’t like to see this proposal go ahead, particularly on the visual amenity grounds, I’m afraid Fiona has, either mistakenly or deliberately, also misrepresented the situation.

The defined erosion prone area (correct terminology) at this location is not 100m but, like everywhere else around here, this site has the potential to be affected by climate change fluctuations, severe cyclones, tides and flooding; these last two potentially affecting the access to the place not washing away the houses, have a look at the elevation of the actual housing sites. Aside from a bridge crossing the creek, all the development is outside the defined erosion prone area.

A preliminary approval under IPA cannot grant permission for operational works, only a development approval can. Any approval for the destruction and removal of marine plants, namely mangroves, comes from the DPI (a concurrence agency) under the Fisheries Act.

Yeah there are some streams flowing (sometimes) thru the area but a sufficient setback (say about 40-50m) with a covenant to protect the riparian vegetation could be considered. The traffic around the caravan park and boat ramp is likely to be an issue, but there is always an ‘acceptable solution’ in the planning scheme. Murray and the Infrastructure Management mob praise us for being professional yet ridicule us when we engage ESD (Environmentally Sustainable Development) principles as we are professionally and legislatively bound to do (just so the ‘elected’ council can override them).

Our planning laws (including the new Sustainable Planning Act) are stacked in favour of developers, the best we can hope for is the inclusion of conditions that restrain some of the absolutely stupid aspects of some proposals i.e. the Water Park location.

Jude Johnston said...

Dallas, Thank you for your explanation, it saves us all having to explain this to Factman. However, your comment re Fiona is incorrect. Fiona is extremely competent, intelligent and researches thoroughly, and would not "deliberately misrepresent the situation".
Your own comment - "Aside from a bridge crossing the creek, all the development is outside the defined erosion prone area" - Dallas, isn't a bridge a structure? No structures are to be built in erosion prone areas.
Congratulations to Fiona on her ability to get the information that affects us all "out there". I wish there were more like her in Cairns.

Factman said...

Hey Dallas ...
I'm sorry if the words, "instructed by DERM" were not to your liking.

Perhaps I should have used the words, "directed by DERM".

I mean those are the words used in the report's recommendation that went to Council yesterday.

And that's a fact.

Fiona Tulip said...

Re Dallas's comments

I do not believe that I have misrepresented the facts.

The access to the 24 houses is via a bridge or crossing over a tidal creek within metres of the Coral Sea. Anyone who lives on the Northern Beaches knows what happens to these creeks, even when we get moderate rainfall, let alone a cyclone and or combination of bad weather events.

There is very real potential for the homeowners at that location to be flooded in or out(ie, no bridge access). There is no other designated vehicular access.

And as for Factman, just because someone owns a block of land, does not mean that they can do what they like on it, or destroy everything good about that location in the process, does it?
Other Councils knock back these kinds of inappropriate and unsustainable developments all the time. The Sunchine Coast Council is one such council that really values its natural surrounds. Up until now, this has not been the case with CCC/CRC. Why is that exactly?

We have all seen the results of what has happened at Foley Road, Palm Cove, to know that said covenants and other protections were not given in the conditions in the first place by Council when that residential hillslope development was approved. The developer has cleared every tree on that mountain, and then some.....It is a very shameful and shining example of CRCs planning department's lack of professionalism, sustainability creditials and Sno Bonneau's involvement!!!!!!!!!

I Am The Stig said...

Factman has missed the point of what Palm Cove is all about. People come to Palm Cove to holiday because it has that Village feel about it. It is what Noosa was in 1980, it is something different, it is special.
You continue to develop it and it becomes a me too destination and therefore holds far less attraction than any of the over developed Beach Resorts all the way up the coastline from Sydney.

dallas said...


Does Simon and Neil writing this to try and shift attention elsewhere make it correct? The assessment manager still makes their own decision against their own assessment criteria (i.e. the Planning Scheme in council’s case) and does not nor cannot under law take instruction or direction to approve an application from a concurrence agency. And guess what – that’s a fact!


I am sorry you interpreted my comments as questioning Fiona’s competency, intelligence and research capability, that was certainly not contained in my text. I certainly agree that she does a good job as a community spokesperson and that there should be more like her.

The fact remains that the erosion prone area width at this location quoted by Fiona was wrong, as was the statement “This preliminary approval grants permission for operational works…” Fiona, a planner can’t generalise about the characteristics of all creeks on the northern beaches, each application must be assessed on its merits. Look at the catchment that this particular watercourse has, 1:50 or 1:100 ARI events do not threaten accessibility, although mapping data indicates a storm surge probably would for a brief period.

There are alternatives; why doesn’t council require the developer to facilitate alternative access through the Ocean’s Edge development? It is possible that Council could condition the development to prevent impacts on the wetland values as well as scenic and other values (i.e. vegetation clearance, building envelopes, materials and colours, height restrictions etc) such that the development’s impacts are limited. This of course will reduce the profit on the proposal and council as usual will lack the political will to impose such restrictions, but it is possible. Unfortunately planners do not get to follow up on the compliance with DA conditions they propose, this responsibility is held by another council department which has some brilliant officers who are managed with, at best, indifference.

Jude, if absolutely no structures were allowed in erosion prone areas there would be no bridges over any tidal rivers, no wharves, no jetties etc. The thing about structures allowed in erosion prone areas is about having appropriately designed infrastructure in the appropriate place, not a blanket ban. Its about a holistic approach; developing alternatives and minimising the impacts, allowing for ESD. (Don’t forget ESD includes the ecological aspects of the environment as well as the economy and societal values with the precautionary principle and intergenerational equity factored in).

I personally (selfishly?) would rather the headland remained as it is but alas it is freehold land with limited as-of-right use, the owner has the right at law to apply for the MCU in the same way that we have the right to express our opinions, even Factman. It is possible that the land could be developed to house people in a way that has little if any impact. One way or another we need to accommodate all the people in this world sustainably, the only sure way to make it truly sustainable is to reduce the human population significantly and quickly. What decision-maker is going to stand on that public platform? If it does get a run, I’d like to suggest the cull start in the Infrastructure Management section.

Factman said...

Hey Debbie does ... sorry, Dallas.

Are you inferring that two of Council's most senior planners are trying to mislead the Mayor and the councilors by "shifting attention"?
Is that what you are saying?

What about the EMT?

Why didn't they "pull it"?

As for the I.M.cull - haha.

Yes, I'll take redundancy ...

And that's a fact.

Jude Johnston said...

There are two other applications currently in Council for the same lots - if the soft option of the 27 residential houses gets approved then no doubt the further two applications which are 122 Multi Unit Housing units and 125 Holiday units will follow very shortly thereafter. You see Dallas, this is the problem we continually face out here, it is never just one development.

Fiona Tulip said...

RE.....Dallas 's comments,
I wonder if you have actually read the application Dallas?

Obviously not.......

It says Page 1....


Now are you suggesting that the Council planners and the developer's consultants are not applying for this but have it listed on their front cover of their application before Councillors, have misled everyone on this issue and you are now using this issue to muddy the murky waters?

Fiona Tulip said...

As Jude has just pointed out, another 247 multistorey units are also proposed somewhere on this site, with the proposed access via Williams Esplanade (an erosion prone zone) and the Caravan Park!!

Just imagine.......These applications are currently being processed by Council and will be coming before Councillors sometime soon.
It would appear that this madness has no end.....

CBD Warrior said...

The overriding issue for all of this is the intellectual bankruptcy shown by everyone on the "climate change" issue. While generally Labor, I'm with the Nationals on this.

And when did "skeptic" become a bad thing? It's called rational analysis.

Let's look at the facts.

1. KRudd insists on "leading the world" on ETS, when in fact ETS by Australia will do NOTHING to cut carbon emissions. If KRudd and the Greens were really serious, they would STOP selling coal. Period.

2. The Queensland Labor government is ramming thru coastal protection laws, at the same time they're spending almost a BILLION $$$ on a hospital site guaranteed to go under water someday EVEN WITHOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.

3. Our local city government continues to approve high density housing and waterparks in drainage areas, GUARANTEED to go under water EVEN WITHOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.

It's no wonder the public is skeptical, when even the Labor and Green governments can't coordinate their own responses. Makes it clear that, Labor or Liberal or Green or National, there are skeptics everywhere to whom making money NOW is the only overriding consideration.

The "tide" is turning, the skeptics are now going to rule the day and turn back the "climate change" hysteria.

Miss Chief. said...

I know I'm horribly naive but I can see that, not only has this development the potential for eco disaster but it's detrimental to the lifestyle of the existing community. Palm Cove is beautiful because it's NOT overdeveloped. Any visitor that I have taken their loves the place. What a pity the land can't be purchased from the owner and preserved for the community.
I'm imagining how awful it's going to be if building is ever allowed to go ahead...trucks, dust, noise...just what residents and visitors want!

dallas said...

I had no wish to upset either Fiona or Jude and made no sarcastic or derogatory comments about either of you but now your ignorance (failure to understand what you are talking about) and arrogance (to presume that I have not read the applications) is really starting to show your lack of ability to reason. Fiona, your interpretation of council’s words could be resolved if you have a look at section 3.1.5 of the Integrated Planning Act that explains the difference between a preliminary approval and a development permit and what each allows.

The applicant submitted 3 applications simultaneously over this land; one for low density residential, one for medium density accommodation and another for high density. This is a common ploy by consultants seeking a range of potential outcomes and then when approved and based on those precedents and negotiated outcomes, they submit yet another application or two picking the “choicest parts” of the approved applications resulting in an approved development that would not likely have gained approval in the first place. It is also a wonderful way to significantly increase your client billable hours. (Can you guess who the consultants are in this case?)

If one, two or all three applications are approved; that does not mean that all three proposals can be constructed on the land, thus the suggestion that if the low density housing is approved it will be followed by another 122 or 247 units is pure nonsense.

Mike/Blog administrator, this is the third time I have tried to post a response without success, am I being selectively accepted again?

Jude Johnston said...

Good Morning Dallas, I had to wait until I had my coffee before replying to your post. It doesn't upset me that you think me arrogant and ignorant. It's ok.
I would also like to thank you for expanding on what happens with these development applications, as you have in paragraph 2, it allows the other blog readers to understand the machinations and deviousness of developers and their consultants. You might even be correct in that all of those units won't be built on the site. We have seen that too, where the developer opts for a reduced number of units and then have a councillor (usually Clr Bonneau) trumpet on about how the development could have been so much worse but how with the councillors expertise they managed to get a much better outcome.
Already 5 story buldings are starting to become the norm out here so I don't take your stance that approval for another 247 units is "pure nonsence".
I am delighted of course to hear that Julia moved an motion to not approve this preliminary application and this was subsequently passed.
I don't believe that Mike/blog administrator is censoring your blogs, sometimes it is a bit slow to post and sometimes you have to reenter the word verification a couple of times - just look for the yellow bit at the top of your post to make sure your post has been acknowledged.

Fiona Tulip said...


The art of deception by developers that you speak of is known to us as card player trick No. 2.

A Buchan point developer told us that his zoning allowed him to build a Casino on the land, but look, we residents should be grateful, because he was only going to build 4 blocks of units 7 storeys tall.

I saw a similar tactic just recently at a developer's information session on a development at Kewarra. The planning consultants had two plans drawn up, and they asked the audience to put a sticker on the plan they liked best.

One plan is the one they really want, and the other is a massive high density, oversized group of units, with no set backs. The interesting comment made by the consultants,was that the Council had asked them to present the options like this, allowable under the current zoning.

We are fully aware of all the tricks and the dodgy relationships between Council and developers.

All the dots were placed on plan A. (surprise, surprise, surprise).

Fiona Tulip said...

Re Dallas's comments

The only other comment I would like to make is that developers and Council officers have months and months to understand, gather the relevant information and produce the documentation pertaining to a DA.

The Palm Cove headland was a Code Assesable development which meant that it went on the Council website on Friday. There was no other public notification or opportunity to put in a submission.

We only realised that this application was there on Sunday lunchtime.

Despite hours and hours downloading information off the relevant government departmental websites, maps and reading the application, there is always something that one over looks or you simply just do not have the time to get further information from governement departments that were referral agencies etc.

Residents wanting to put in a submission before the Council meeting are severely disadvantaged in this regard. The informtion has to be sent to Councillors realistically before Tuesday evening so that they have a chance to read it. So assuming you discover the presence of an application you want to respond too, you have less than 4 days to mount a campaign, two days of which are the weekend. The other two days, are work days, and most residents work, including me. Then to mount a campaign, you have to have some kind of network or communication with affected or interested residents. I suspect that there would have been many residents in Palm Cove who were and probably still are, completely oblivious to the presence of this application and its ramifications.

Having said all this, the current system is an improvement to what we had under Byrne. Then applications went up on Monday morning and the Council meetings were on Thursday morning so effectively only three days notice.

Whilst the Preliminary approval or whatever you want to call it was refused on Wednesday, it does not mean that the developer cannot come back with a more sustainable proposal and more appropriate vehicular access. If he does, and provides all the relevant information that was so glaring missing from this application, then he might have better luck next time around.

Oh and for general interest, the unconfirmed minutes show that Cochrane, Blake and Bonneau, voted against the motion to refuse the application put forward by Julia Leu.

Jude Johnston said...

Just a small correction Fiona,
under the previous Byrne regime, the Agenda was posted on the website on Thursday morning of the meeting, not on the previous Monday morning, so there was not time to respond. The meetings were held at 5.30pm and lasted approx 40 minutes. I believe Councillors had access to the Agenda on Monday mornings.

Bazza said...

I was of the belief that a notice had to be placed at the property showing the development intentions
and ref no. one month prior to application, the enforcement of this was not done under byrne's regime.

concerned said...

I could be wrong, but the development notice would not need to be placed due to the approval being code assessable and maybe something to do with the approval being a preliminary one.

So, now the approval for this particular development has been knocked back (thanks leu and pyne), is it less likely the larger development approval being processed will be passed through council? Seems there is always the planning court to fall back on anyway.

I agree with the previous commentator, the land should be in public hands. In other coastal towns (Noosa, Tallebudgera) such headlands are kept for public use with walks for everyone to enjoy. I believe the ever-astute Factman made some mention of the land being shared for many people to enjoy. If it was parkland, truly everyone could enjoy it, not just the cashed up few who could afford the high prices for real estate in such a position.

Developers should remember, in over developing the Cairns region it is killing the very reason people enjoy coming here. Cairns cannot compete with the beaches or moderate weather down south. Why would anyone want to come here if the area becomes an ugly town full of concrete boxes and very little green space. We don't have the clear oceans to swim in all year round to compete with other coastal towns and the reef is looking pretty unhealthy. The natural look of Cairns is one of the positives we have going for the place. Developments like this, ruining the visual amenity of one of the drawcards of Cairns, will not in the long term bring jobs or tourists to Cairns. We should remember as a town to work to our strengths, that being the natural aspects of Cairns which are left.

Quien Sabe said...

Sorry Bazza,

Under the Integrated Planning Act this was a "Code Assessable" application, no signs, no notifications, no rights of submission and no rights of Appeal to the Planning and Environment Court.

Fiona Tulip said...

I stand corrected on that one Jude. I must have been having a seniors moment when I wrote that.

Under Kevin Byrne, the application details were put up on the web on the morning of the meeting.

Even as things stand now, the unfairness, disadvantage for residents to even know what the hell is going on, let alone, put in submissions is something that should be looked at by this State Goverment.

In other Councils down south, all development applications are put on the web, more or less as soon as they are received, and anyone can go on and browse whats new, what stage a DA is up to and then everyone has plenty of time to gather information and inform community about proposals - both good and bad. At any stage, information can be downloaded from the web, it is a very interactive system and one that needs to be implemented in Cairns, and across Queensland if this is something new to this state.

Sue E said...

This is a code assessable development so the public has no right of submission. Applications subject to code assessment can only be refused if the proposed developments do not comply with applicable codes and compliance can not be achieved by imposing conditions.
A preliminary approval approves assessable development but does not authorize it to start – a development permit is needed for that. However, it is optional only and is not required prior to seeking a development permit.
Preliminary approvals are used to assist in the staging of approvals, for example, a concept plan for a subdivision [that’s what a reconfiguration of a lot is] and where the final detailed design or details etc are still outstanding but would need to be submitted before any development permit was issued. However, once issued, a preliminary approval is a binding approval and therefore gives an applicant certainty in relation to the proposed development. It is obvious, why the applicant sought a preliminary approval. Once issued and while still current, the development approval would be binding and would to my knowledge, be exempt from any changes to legislation.
As far as I am aware the applicant can not appeal Council’s decision but can re-submit an application again which I am sure will eventuate. You have to remember that approximately 247residential/tourist units/apartments are also planned in relation to this development.

Thaddeus said...

..and there goes Palm Cove...the same way as Cifton Beach, over-developed and over-crowded...