Thursday, September 14, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
The highly controversial 47.7-metre high-rise development planned for the Airlie Beach Foreshore has been approved for a second time following a lengthy battle at the Environment and Planning Court.
The planning application was initially approved by Whitsunday Regional Council last year but local action group, Save Our Foreshore (SOF) challenged the decision and took the matter to court.
The group disputed the approval, stating that the land was only zoned for a five-storey building, not a 12-storey high-rise and claimed the decision went against the Airlie Beach Town Plan.
They also believe it contradicts the ‘small town feel’ that attracts most tourists to Airlie Beach.
Suzette Pelt, spokesperson for SOF, said that the development will “torpedo the future of the Whitsundays” and that 1,700 letters of opposition were “ignored by the councillors in their decision making”.
"We see this decision as one that will, in reality, hold the Whitsundays back,” she said.
“This decision could also set off a string of future applications along the length of Airlie Beach, resulting in what’s known as the ‘canyon effect’”.
Meanwhile, others in the community believe the development could expand the overall tourism offering as the new hotel must be of five-star standard.
It is also set to include a 500-seater function room which would attract corporate clients and enable large-scale events to be held in the region.
Once again, SOF flag this as a concern because developers, Meridien Holdings, are currently in receivership and the nature of the future development uncertain.
“The development site is problematic, the development must obtain and maintain a 5-star luxury rating, and as stated in the judgement (paragraph 123), to date no potential operator has committed to the development,” Ms Pelt said.
Whitsunday Regional Council Director of Development Services Neil McGaffin said they are still waiting to hear more about the conditions of the approval.
“The judge has ruled in Meridien/Council’s favour and the approval has been allowed, albeit adjourned for parties to provide advice to the Court on appropriate conditions of approval,” he said.
“This should be resolved within the next two – three weeks.”
Save Our Foreshore have been campaigning against a high-rise on the Airlie Beach Foreshore for many years. Photo supplied