Reference : Creation Hotel & Residences, Port Douglas
Thursday 11 February 2021
Dear Mr Gurner,
We respect and appreciate that you love Port Douglas. We do too.
We respect and appreciate that you are a celebrated developer in the high end ultra-luxe property market. And while at the end of the day, your proposed development will contribute only 18 additional extra hotel rooms, another restaurant, bars and a wellness centre to our tourism industry, some members of the community may consider the addition of your ultra-luxe brand into the mix, a positive move for the Shire.
Adjoining owners have also long respected and accepted that the freehold portion of Flagstaff Hill would be sold for development. When they learned that you were going to be the developer for the site, their initial thought was that having such a prestigious brand on their door step could be an asset.
Until, they saw the detail.
What we do not respect or accept is that you have chosen to threaten muchthat is precious to our village, in order create your Gurner vision for Port Douglas.
FOUR MILE BEACH ESPLANADE
Whilst the registered address of your Creation is Murphy Street, the actual reality is that your Creation has in reality very little to do with Murphy Street but mostly to do with this Esplanade. Your development application refers to your hotel as the Esplanade Hotel and confirms that its impact in the Esplanade will be HIGH.
Not only have you chosen to centre your resort in the Esplanade rather than Murphy Street, but you are also further encroaching on the Esplanade by including the purchase of a portion of state-owned Flagstaff Hill to build on (close to the Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail).
From the perspective of the Four Mile Beach Esplanade, your complex will be a whopping 27.8 metres high (seven levels/storeys). Given the scale and density of your design, there will hardly be a tree left standing. We are most concerned that the impact of your Creation on possibly the most iconic part of Port Douglas will not just be high. It will be dominant. It will be a dominant feature when starting the Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail, a dominant vista from Four Mile Beach and the entire Esplanade area.
Our Esplanade public park (Jalun) will be the only vehicular entry to your Creation resort complex. As a result, the road in to this already small park is going to be considerably widened to accommodate tour buses, service and guest vehicles in to the resort. This is damaging enough, but you have chosen to make the impact even worse.
You could have either used the existing road to the freehold land that you are to develop on, or you could exercise the rights (attached to the purchase of the freehold land) to build another ramped road across this park. You have chosen the latter and will be building a 6-meter-wide ramped road across this park as exclusive entry to your resort. You are ruining our public Esplanade park, Mr Gurner.
VILLAGE “NO HIGHER THAN A PALM TREE” SIGNATURE
As most in our local tourism industry will confirm, one of the key attractions to our region besides the reef and rainforest, is our laidback village style. Traditionally Douglas Shire’s core planning codes enshrine this relaxed tropical village attraction, “nothing taller than a palm tree’. Our independent professional planning and legal advice suggests that your application breaks many of these codes.
That your complex is 27.8 metres high, more than double the permitted legal height of developments in the Douglas Shire, makes it a high rise building, setting a dangerous precedent for high rises throughout Douglas Shire.
You state that all of this is worth it to create jobs. Sure, in the short-term, it will bring in builders, but given your hotel has only eighteen rooms, a restaurant and bars, it is not going to significantly offer more long-term job opportunities (in a town struggling to find employees).
You state that you are very excited to create something that will help to stimulate the local tourism sector again. However, over 100 established holiday units will have to close to enable construction on your Creation. This is not stimulating the existing economy in any way, one that is ready to bounce back when the COVID-19 vaccines roll out. What the town does require is a lagoon, and it requires the development of the dead area of town – the Marina.
Mr Gurner, we do not want a fight.
We are not political or anti-development, as some may suggest.
We are simply members of this community who are passionate about protecting our paradise and maintaining the very essence of what attracts both residents and our core visitor demographic to the Shire – our village signature and our iconic Esplanade and beach.
Should you believe that our concerns are unfounded, or that we have been ill-advised, we welcome you to meet with us. You do state that you will “work with everyone who is interested in the project to ensure that it adds positively to Port Douglas”.
Protect Our Paradise Community
Please note that all comments are based on either professional independent advice or on the contents of the Development Application lodged with Douglas Shire Council.