Douglas Shire Councillors Withdraw Support for Sale of State Land for Flagstaff Hill Development

gurner development port douglas

DOUGLAS Shire Council held an Ordinary Council Meeting this morning, Tuesday 30 March 2021 with all motions carried, including an amendment to Councillor Abigail Noli’s proposed repeal of an earlier December 15, 2020 decision by Council to support an application for a permanent road closure at land on the Four Mile Beach Esplanade associated with the proposed Gurner resort development on Flagstaff Hill.

This decision is made because Cr Noli felt that as a Councillor, she had received inadequate information at the time Councillors were required to make a decision in December 2020. With “further information coming to light”, she could no longer support that original decision. Crs Zammataro and Scomazzon agreed. An amended motion was carried.

 Notice of Motion – Repeal of Decision for Application for Permanent Road Closure over Esplanade Adjacent to Lot 2 RP 724386 Port Douglas

Councillor Noli moved the following motion at the Ordinary Council Meeting of 30 March 2021. The motion was seconded by Cr Zammataro.

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.

  1. That the recommendation of an Application for Permanent Road Closure over Esplanade Adjacent to Lot 2 RP 724386 Port Douglas, resolved at the Ordinary Council Meeting held on 15 December 2020, be repealed.
  2. That Council informs DNRME that if Part C assessment process has already been expedited, that Council delegates authority under section 257 of the Local Government Act 2009 to the Chief Executive Officer to immediately advise the Department of Natural Resources Mines & Energy (DNRME) that Council is not supportive of the road closure, and
  3. When DNRME formally seeks views from Council and the public as outlined in the 15 December 2020 report, Council will provide objections to the proposed road closure.

By way of introduction, Cr Noli explained that since the December 15, 2020 Ordinary Council meeting, she has become aware of further information pertaining to the road closure request associated with the significant “Gurner” Development Application (DA). She advised that she needs to be more highly briefed by Council staff, including planners, as to the significance and extent of the associated DA. She suggested that the DA appears to require much discussion by staff as well as the public.

Cr Noli advised that as a result of the information provided to Councillors at the December meeting, she had been under the impression that the road in question was to be used both privately and publicly. Given the new information that has come to light, she has concerns over the road closure and the high detrimental impact on public access to the community resource of Jalun Park.

Cr Kerr stepped in by telephone to argue against the motion. He argued that the background given in the Report at the December meeting was in fact very clear. He was concerned with possible legal ramifications with reversing the original decision. He was adamant that he will not support Cr Noli’s motion.

In response, Cr Noli acknowledged that the repeal isn’t that difficult a decision from a legal perspective if Councillors remove Point 1 and leave in Points 2 and 3 of the motion. Again, she reiterated that, to her, the Report was definitely not clear that the associated development was on such a scale.

Cr Zammataro agreed with Cr Noli, stating that at the time Councillors made the December 15, 2020 decision, he had no understanding at all of the magnitude of the development or the implications of compliance with the Douglas Planning Scheme.

A Council employee took the opportunity to advise that with the original December motion, Council was only committed to the applicant’s submission, not to approval of the DA or the road closure itself.

Cr Noli acknowledged the officer’s assurance, but emphasised that the desire of her notice of motion is:

to notify the Department of Resources (DNRME) that Council is against the road closure…..therefore suggesting that Council remove Point 1, and leave Points 2 and 3 of the motion, ie that Council does not support the road closure, and that later in the formal process, Council will speak against it, now that further information has become apparent to Councillors.

Cr Kerr was adamant that the request for Council’s support for the road closure had nothing to do with the actual adjacent DA, and that the road closure will not affect the public car park nor access to Jalun Park. Cr Noli insisted that the issue is more about subsequent information coming to light to Councillors.

Cr McKeown spoke up, expressing his view that there were no sufficient details provided about the DA at the 15 December 2020 meeting but he was not especially concerned as there was opportunity for public consultation later, once DNRME approved the road closure and sale of public land, and provided public notification.

From a planning position, staff advised that the DA can’t formally proceed until consent for the sale of the public road is given by the State government, ie that there will be plenty of opportunity for Council to respond later in the formal assessment process as per Cr McKeown’s view.

In conclusion, Cr Noli moved an amendment to delete Point 1 and to keep Points 2 and 3 of the motion, to allow due process to continue, but that Council will alert DNRME that they will speak against the submission. She felt this was an important message to get out there.

The iconic Flagstaff Hill and Four Mile Beach Esplanade Area set to be transformed by a $60 million dollar Gurner company development which includes 16 ultra-luxury boutique homes, restaurant, bars, holistic wellness and gym facilities, plus a further 18 boutique hotel rooms with absolute water views and direct beach access to Four Mile Beach. Image Credit / Douglas Shire Council Development Application MCUC 2020_3867

Amended Motion

  • When DNRME formally seeks views from Council and the public as outlined in the 15 December 2020 report, Council will provide objections to the proposed road closure.

  • The amended motion was moved by Cr Noli and seconded by Cr Zammataro.

    Cr Kerr spoke against the motion, that he considered the Councillors’ concern to be with the DA not the associated road closure.

    Cr Scomazzon advised that she understood Cr Noli’s perspective, and had made similar assumptions to Crs Noli and Zammataro at the December 15, 2020 Council meeting. She took the opportunity to note persistent issues with a lack of adequate information provided to Councillors.

    Cr Scomazzon suggested ongoing updates about (particularly code assessable) DAs be provided, especially where the public were not able to speak against the applications.

    She suggested she would perhaps not have voted the way she did in December, had she been aware of the further information that has come to light about the implications of the road closure.

    Cr Noli appreciated Council officer reassurances, and moved the amended motion which was carried, and supported by Cr Zammataro and Scomazzon.

    Cr McKeown and Cr Kerr voted against the motion.

    The motion was carried.

    It is understood that notice for the application for a road closure at Jalun Park will be publicly advertised onsite within the next two weeks.

    After today’s meeting, we understand that despite the notice for an application for the road closure not yet being advertised to the public, nor the formal application for the DA being made, the assessment process within Douglas Shire Council for the “Gurner” DA has already commenced with Councillor workshops started, and more scheduled.

    The Creation Hotel by Gurner, requires the sale of public land adjacent to the Esplanade and a public road closure. Councillors today revoked their support for the application given further information that has come to light. Images Credit / Douglas Shire Council Development Application MCUC 2020_3867

    Further information

    Douglas Shire Council Development Applications -search for MCUC 2020_3867

    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

    flagstaff hill gurner development on council agenda
    Image Credit / Douglas Shire Council

    Other Motions Carried Include:

    Request for Approval for Unapproved Landscaping and Extension to Currency Period for Escape Street Development CA2638/2008

    RADF Committee Member Appointment

    Roadside Vending Policy Update

    Wonga Beach Caravan Park Caretaker Management Agreement

    Milman Drive Playground – Six Month Post Installation Review

    Financial Report February 2021

    Closed Session Table of Contents

    Watch today’s Douglas Shire Council meeting here.

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    2 years ago

    Awesome news! Cr Noli, Cr Zammataro and Cr Scommazzon you have all accurately represented the broader community’s concerns and have shown great maturity and strength in ensuring this project be given the rightful amount of thought and consideration is deserves. There has been way too many decisions made by Council over the past 12 months based on inadequate, and inaccurate, information. Thank you for standing up!