OUTRAGE: Fight for Airlie’s Roger Down expressing the anger felt over Whitsunday Regional Council’s previously proposed draft planning scheme at a meeting in September 2015.
OUTRAGE: Fight for Airlie’s Roger Down expressing the anger felt over Whitsunday Regional Council’s previously proposed draft planning scheme at a meeting in September 2015.

Town reacts to a new building height plan

WHILE Airlie Beach won't see dramatic building height increases as proposed in 2015, some areas could be bumped up one storey.

But are those who first fought against the increases happy with Whitsunday Regional Council's amended plan?

The original Draft Whitsunday Regional Council Planning Scheme would have seen the foreshore go to three storeys, the inland side of Airlie's main street go to four storeys, the area bounded by Waterson Way go to eight storeys and the Port of Airlie precinct possibly go as high as 12 storeys.

Under the revised plan the area bounded by Waterson Way will increase to six storeys and the Port of Airlie precinct will go to five storeys, while Broadwater Ave between Mazlin St and the Lagoon will remain at three storeys.

This means only the area bounded by Waterson Way and the Port of Airlie precinct will see building height increases. 

Former deputy mayor Rogin Taylor, who protested against the original plan, said any height increase was a bad idea.

"I'm happy with the way things are now; that's how it has been, that's the way everybody likes it," he said.

"We're not the Gold Coast and I think that's one of the reasons people come here.

"I'm not against development, but I think the way it is is just fine."

Airlie Beach resident Wendy Downes was also opposed to the original height increase proposed, but said the revised plan was "a lot more acceptable".

"What they're proposing now makes a lot more sense and I'll probably support it," she said.

"Certainly no higher than that though, that would have to be the maximum."

Ms Downes said she couldn't see the need to build bigger accomodation blocks.

"The town will not sustain a lot more accomodation," she said. "There's too much empty accomodation now.

"We need to think about restoring and filling some of the properties that we have to be profit-making propositions, rather than building new ones that are not sustainable."

Former mayor Jennifer Whitney, who was in office when the original plan was released, said residents weren't shown "what the town planners' recommendation was from all the submissions".

"It was only to keep it at pretty well four, six and remember there were a couple of sites they were looking at eight (storeys)," she said.

"So all that's happened is there's no eight storeys."

Ms Whitney said she still believed the town needed to grow to survive.

"At some point in time, what the community's got to understand is, if they want development, developers want certainty they can actually build to a height without objections and running around wasting time," she said.

"We're desperately needing a redesign of the area and if we don't encourage growth that's not going to happen."

Timeline

September 2014: A structure plan is devised for Airlie Beach proposing increased building heights.

November 2014: The Draft Whitsunday Regional Council Planning Scheme is available on council's website.

August 21, 2015: The community consultation period begins, set to finish October 2.

September 21-24, 2015: Community meetings provide feedback, with outrage around the proposed building height increases in Airlie Beach.

September 25, 2015: The consultation period is extended to October 16.

October 3, 2015: A rally against the scheme is held in Airlie Beach.

October 16, 2015: The community consultation closes.

November 2015: Six community groups are invited to provide further feedback on the scheme, with three abstaining.

July 26, 2016: Council votes to send a revised version of the planning scheme out for public consultation.

Draft Whitsunday Regional Council Planning Scheme: Whitsunday Regional Council have released a short video explaining their proposed town plan.
Draft Whitsunday Regional Council Planning Scheme: Whitsunday Regional Council have released a short video explaining their proposed town plan.