Apparently the Anglicans only give lip service to one of their religious principals, "judgement in the afterlife".
The property has been on the developer's block since 1984, with various projects knocked back over the years by relentless community pressure. As the abusive nature of the conservative council under Kevin Byrne became apparent, with the wholesale destruction of a similar headland adjacent to Palm Cove (Buchans Point), residents of the northern beaches areas decided to make a stand at this last of the city-area headlands to block its development and honor the "public use" requirement of the original owners.
The owner and appellant is RH Prettejohn - the Prettejohn family are "sugar millionaires" in North Queensland, with huge real estate holdings across the area including the largest undeveloped flatland property at Palm Cove (where the elder Prettejohns still reside). The Prettejohns have long argued their "environmentalism" at their other projects like the Kewarra Beach resort, however we'll see the speciousness of that argument shortly.
Prettejohn claims he bought the land with a 252 unit project approval "in place". It's been admitted by those associated with the developers that clearly this was never going to happen - it was a political manipulation by minister Russ Hinz. Prettejohn in 2004 submitted a 39 luxury housing estate plan, which cynically offloaded two small parcels, the northern degraded beach area and a cliffside, both of which cannot support development and would just cost the residents money in maintenance.
The project was finally knocked back by the Schier council in 2010, and hence the appeal by Prettejohn. Over 4000 objectors from Trinity Beach, in a wide-ranging use of people-power, engaged the Environmental Defenders Office of North Queensland, (EDO), who along with council engaged counsel defeated the plan before a Land Court Judge earlier this year. In the court ruling, the plans were found to be deficient, and the land is said to be unsuitable for any development. In addition to the visual amenity blight on the community (illustrated very competently by local architect Mark Buttrose in a drawing unavailable to the blog), the land would require massive excavation for both roads and proposed housing many believe would exceed the works being done at the now blocked False Cape project, where CEC excavation works on unsuitable ground resulted in an employee death.
False Cape was brought to a halt by federal minister Peter Garrett. There are more compelling reasons to stop the development of Taylor Point.
Usually, such a decisive ruling by the Land Court would be the end of the matter. However Prettejohn is schmoozing with new councillors and Mayor "Screwdriver" Manning on the issue, framing it as a "jobs" project. Never mind there is little market for high-end (over $500K homes) in Cairns at the moment.
There are several significant issues at play here, issues that the community needs to communicate to the representatives.
- Development decisions must be respected by incoming governments. We can't have a see-saw of open slather and restrained development based on the government of the day. The new Cairns Regional Council needs to continue to defend the wishes of the overwhelming number of Trinity Beach community who want this project killed.
- While the Prettejohn's claim they are environmentally sensitive developers, the reality of development is that this cannot be guaranteed. The Prettejohn-developed Kewarra Beach Resort was sold off for massive retirement unit development when they decided they had squeezed enough money from it, and demurred at the needed upgrade to this dilapidated property. We now will likely see hundreds of little retirement units packed between the coast and Cook Highway. Who's to know what a new approval for Taylor Point might really mean to a politically-savvy developer?
- Other "protected" areas are likely to see a council backtrack on Taylor Point as a signal to further degrade the public amenity of other Northern Beaches icons. Already Tom "Six-Pack" Hedley has jammed units right up to the golf course and highway, with no assurance Paradise Palms will remain as a golf course. Owners of the Novotel at Palm Cove put bulldozers thru their golf course without a moment of hesitation. And even the currently open appeal by the Melbourne Buxton family on their Foley Road property surrounding the Phil Hartwig environmental disaster on the Palm Cove hillslopes might see their chances of further rape of that hillside in full view of Palm Cove residents and visitors alike.
|THE MASSIVE PRETTEJOHN PROPERTY BETWEEN |
PALM COVE AND ARGENTEA/CLIFTON BEACH.
PUBLIC GOOD OR MORE OF THE SAME?