Developers claim conditions could make project unviable
The cost of infrastructure has forced the Whitsunday Paradise project to be sent back to the council table with a major decision set to be made at this week's meeting.
Developers say a decision is set to be made on three remaining conditions that could make the $1.1 billion project unviable.
The Whitsunday Regional Council approved the 2000-dwelling Whitsunday Paradise project in October last year but on Wednesday councillors will vote on conditions regarding road reserve widths, water and sewer infrastructure.
Developer GRW Group claims the council's planned conditions could significantly increase the company's costs and make the project commercially unfeasible.
GRW Group general manager Blake Thomas said the company and the council had been locked in negotiations in relation to the conditions since the council approved the project in October.
"We had hoped that we would have been able to start preliminary works before last Christmas but the negotiations over the conditions have taken significantly longer than expected," Mr Thomas said.
"We are hopeful the council will approve fair and reasonable conditions this week and once an agreement is in place, we will release the first round of tender documents for the preliminary works."
Council's development services director Neil McGaffin said the council had approved the project so was supportive of it, but there had been a "hiccup".
"The applicant has now said they are worried about the cost of infrastructure and they have sent us an infrastructure agreement," Mr McGaffin said.
"That effectively says they will pay for the infrastructure upfront and council will give them credits for the cost of doing the water, sewer and decommissioning the plant that they already operate."
Councillors at Wednesday's meeting will decide whether to give the credits or not.
Mr McGaffin said the viability of the project would depend on many factors, with funding being a significant consideration.
"My responsibility is advising the council on what they are legally entitled to contribute," Mr McGaffin said.
"If they choose to contribute more than what they are legally responsible for, that is ratepayers' money going towards it."
Mr Thomas said developers had an opportunity to market Bowen as a destination for those moving out of the major urban centres because of COVID-19.
"This is an opportunity to inject millions of dollars and bring hundreds of new families into a beautiful region keen to share its lifestyle," he said.
"This is an opportunity to bring a major project into an area that has been hard hit by the pandemic."
Mr Thomas said in stage one, GRW Group would spend up to $40 million on infrastructure works required as part of the project including critical improvements to the Bruce Highway and Bowen's water and sewerage system.
"Importantly these infrastructure improvements alone will create 84 jobs and provide stimulus for further investment in Bowen and the Whitsunday region,'' Mr Thomas said.
"Our studies have shown that over a 20-year period the Whitsunday Paradise project will contribute $1.129 billion to the regional economy and create 400 permanent jobs."
When completed, Whitsunday Paradise will be a masterplanned community comprising 2000 dwellings for up to 5000 people and a commercial centre with associated sporting fields and parks.
The masterplan includes a range of lot sizes to accommodate traditional houses, townhouses, units and potentially tourist accommodation.
The first stage of the project is planned to include 200 new housing lots, an AFL field with clubhouse and a service centre with food outlets.