DOUGLAS SHIRE / Rising Community Concern Over Proposed Development


A passionate community group launched in the Douglas Shire this week, with the intention of bringing greater awareness to their concerns over a proposed development on the iconic Flagstaff Hill that they argue may pave the way for further high rise development throughout the Shire.

A development application for “The Creation Hotel & Residences” was lodged with the Douglas Shire Council on 2 December 2020.
The complex includes 16 private residences, 18 hotel apartments, a guest spa, pool and treatment rooms, and a bar and restaurant outlets.
The property is located on Flagstaff Hill and is to be accessed direct from the closure of a road reserve at Jalun Park (to be acquired through the Queensland State government) along the Four Mile Beach Esplanade.

Image Supplied

The property group Gurner™, founded and operated by Melbourne based Tim Gurner, has applied to develop The Creation Hotel & Residences.  The property is designed in collaboration with architect Ed Glenn of Powell and Glenn, and Jerry Wolveridge of Wolveridge Architects.The landscape architect is Myles Baldwin.

Some neighbouring owners say they first became aware of the proposed complex when they stumbled across a story in the Weekend Australian in December 2020. Those owners say they received no notification from either the developer or the local Council. Some of them were devastated to read the details of the proposed development, picturing how it would impact Port Douglas’ laidback village feel and the vista of the Four Mile Beach Esplanade.

The seven-level development will be carved into the iconic Flagstaff Hill, extending upwards to Murphy St across seven levels, and is described in marketing materials as “part floating” in the treetops at that level. It requires full clearance of 2833m2 of wildlife and vegetation, and at seven levels, with absolutely no setbacks from neighbouring properties.

The Protect Our Paradise group is concerned the development will change the face of the Four Mile Esplanade, from a sleepy tropical beach village feel to a dense, highly developed, busy and highly visible concrete complex.

The group has developed a website that presents a wide range of issues with the development, including non-compliance with the Douglas Planning Scheme “no buildings taller than a palm tree”, environmental and economic impact, and how the matter is being handled by Douglas Shire Mayor Kerr.

Other major issues are coming into the public forum through national media coverage and their campaign on

The community also has the right to appeal decisions about this type of Development Application to the Planning and Environment Court.

Carmel Angelino from a neighbouring property, Reflections of Port Douglas, and Wendy Crossman from By the Sea Port Douglas resort, met with Mayor Kerr. They have stated on their website, Protect our Paradise that the Mayor advised them that he was not a fan of public consultation, indeed that “involving the community has previously set back the progress of the Shire and I am therefore not a fan of it.” The Mayor denies making the statements.

The development is lodged as an Application for Development Permit for Material Change of Use for ‘Multiple Dwellings’, ‘Short-Term Accommodation’ and ‘Food and Drink Outlet’ over Land at 69 – 73 Murphy Street, Port Douglas, described as Lot 2 on RP724386 and Lot 516 on PTD2094. 

It is therefore considered to be “code assessable”.

A code assessable development application does not have to be advertised to the public due to its compliance with local planning provisions.

Neighbours and the public can still make a submission to the Council about it, but they have no formal rights of submission or appeal.

Councils can only refuse a code assessable development application if it does not comply with the relevant codes and /or there are insurmountable technical or engineering constraints.

Had the development application for The Creation Hotel & Residences been lodged as a resort complex, it would have been “impact assessable”.

Impact assessable development is not guaranteed approval, and a detailed assessment by the Council will determine whether the proposal is appropriate or not.

These applications therefore warrant public notification-advertising the application so that members of the community have the opportunity to make a submission within a certain time frame.

Port Douglas’ iconic Flagstaff Hill, Walking Trail and Four Mile Beach Esplanade.
Image Credit / Development Application MCUC 2020_3867/1

Developments generally fall into one of three major classes, being “self-assessable”, “code assessable” or “impact assessable” under the Douglas Planning Scheme. Assessments are managed by Council under the rules and development assessment system contained in the legislation that regulates planning in Queensland, the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA). The SPA covers the planning instruments against which development applications (DAs) are to be assessed; their assessment; and appeals in the Planning and Environment Court.

Impact assessable development applications, due largely to the involvement of the wider community in consultation, are generally more time consuming and onerous for the applicant. By contrast, if one can lodge a code assessable development application, the process is fairly straightforward and can be assessed relatively quickly.

DouglasNews.Network recently reported on another development application that was submitted as “code assessable” for the proposed Fairmont Hotel development.

This Douglas Shire Council served an Action Notice on December 9, 2020 that “in order to progress the development application, the Resort complex land use must be applied for.”

“Reasons why the application is not properly made:

The following is a statement of reasons why the application is not a properly made application: 1. The proposal constitutes the ‘Resort complex’ land use in accordance with the land use definition from the 2018 Douglas Shire Planning Scheme version 1.0. The application is not considered to constitute the three separate land uses proposed as Short-term accommodation, Food and drink outlet and Function facility. “

The question is, will Douglas Shire Council evaluate this Gurner application with the same level of assessment?

While it may be argued that the community genuinely deserves the right to make submissions on the impact of the development application, whether this is recognised by Douglas Shire Council, or not, the developer still needs to buy a block of public land to proceed.

Gurner needs to acquire a parcel of State land from the Queensland Government to facilitate direct access from the Four Mile Esplanade to the Hotel, the porte-cochere, and the restaurant, bars and wellness centre.

That land is located at Jalun Park. 

Proposed access to the Creation Hotel & Residences will be through Jalun Park at the northern end of Four Mile Beach Esplanade
Image Credit / Development Application MCUC 2020_3867/1

It is acknowledged that an application for road closure is being pursued through Department of Natural Resources Mines & Energy.

As it stands right now, the community is not entitled to make submissions to the Douglas Shire Council, but anybody concerned does have the opportunity to have their say to the Queensland government about selling off a valuable community asset. 

We’ll take a closer look at that issue next time.

Image Supplied

Learn more about the proposed development and how to get involved in Protect Our Paradise here:

We invite readers to share their views in the comments below or via our social media accounts.

Feature Image Credit : Development Application MCUC 2020_3867/1


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[…] This is a notice of motion concerning the repeal of a previous Council decision for an Application for Permanent Road Closure for the proposed Gurner development on Flagstaff Hill. […]

[…] This is a notice of motion submitted by Councillor Abigail Noli concerning the repeal of a previous Council decision for an Application for Permanent Road Closure for the proposed Gurner development on Flagstaff Hill. […]

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Rhona Eastment
2 years ago

So, here we go again! Firstly, didn’t Michael Kerr campaign on the lack of consultation (in his biased opportunistic view only)of the previous Council! He lied! As he did about raising of rates. Now, with this ‘unwanted, inappropriate’ development. I do remember hearing on a ABC Radio National talk of Qld Council laws, and a particular problem with developers, that the law now states that a Mayor or Council representative, MUST have a recording of any meeting with developers along with at least one other person in the room. If this is so, Kerr must now produce this. As a resident of this Shire for 34 years, and much time and emotional effort expended on protection of this important part of this Nation, I am devastated with this latest ‘abomination’ to be imposed on Port Douglas.