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Thursday, April 18, 2024

SOF presents strong case

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COMMUNITY group Save Our Foreshore (SOF) and its members and supporters are on tenterhooks, after a decision on the high-rise development court case was suspended.

There is still no verdict on the fate of the proposed high-rise, on the Airlie Beach foreshore, as the Brisbane Planning and Environment court judge has suspended a decision, until the end of August 2023.

SOF members and Whitsunday Regional Council (WRC) battled it out in court, throughout May, the former wishing to stop the development of the 12-storey building proposed by Meridien Pty Ltd, the receivers and managers for Port of Airlie.

The court case was finalised, on Tuesday, May 23, and SOF president Suzette Pelt said SOF’s legal team presented a strong case.

“We felt our legal team presented a strong and compelling case throughout the five-day hearing,” she said.

“The maximum building heights in this zone are a prescriptive 18 metres, not 47 metres plus roof infrastructure, taking it even higher, possibly closer to 50 meters when all is said and done.

“And at more than 2.5 times the town plan height, that is simply unacceptable.

“The long history of this site and original approval for the Whitsundays and Airlie Beach to ‘give up’ Muddy Bay along with its marine values, its views, and recreational uses, was an agreement between the state and the community that building heights would be three to five storeys maximum. That has not changed.

“But there’s been a concerted attack on these height limits from vested interests in recent years, with the most recent attempts to alter the town plan through the major planning amendment and remove the word ‘maximum’ and Airlie Beach local plan character description.

“But the community stood by this plan in huge numbers and let council know that these were important to remain.

“While the decision wasn’t unanimous, we thank those councillors who did vote in support of keeping Airlie Beach’s unique and famous low-rise ‘coconut tree’ height, village character.

“Record tourism numbers and SOF’s surveys of thousands of visitors suggest that people are flocking here because it is what it is. They don’t want high-rise.”

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