Developers want council approval this week for $1.1b project
A NEW deadline has been given to the Whitsunday Regional Council to approve a $1.1 billion development in Bowen this week.
However, a council director says the green light for the Whitsunday Paradise project will not be given this month, let alone this week, citing three major issues standing in the way of the project getting the big tick.
The company behind the project, Greater Rewards Group, granted the council an extension to September 11 to review its plans to build the residential community.
Greater Rewards Group general manager Blake Thomas said the council decision process was meant to be completed last month but the council had asked for an extension until December.
An extension was instead given until September 11.
"We understand that this is one of the largest proposals that the council has ever reviewed so we have agreed to a two-week extension,'' Mr Thomas said.
"Given that we lodged our application for this project back in June 2018 and have been working with the council ever since, another two weeks will not make a huge difference.
"But the people of Bowen should know that we are ready to start work immediately."
The development is expected to contribute $1.129 billion to the region's economy over its 10 stages.
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, growing to 2000 dwellings over the next 20 years.
The council's development services director Neil McGaffin said councils and proponents could agree to grant extensions, but if the team behind Whitsunday Paradise was not pleased with the time frame they could take alternative action, such as going to court.
"What we've maintained is that we won't be making a decision in September and we are happy to work with Whitsunday Paradise to finalise all of the information that we require before we put it to council," Mr McGaffin said.
Mr McGaffin said there were three significant issues to resolve in the Whitsunday Paradise proposal - sewage, reticulated water and a recreation space.
In terms of sewage, Mr McGaffin said the developers now wanted to connect to the reticulated sewage system in Bowen, which was not the original plan.
He said negotiations needed to be done on how much the developers would pay to cover that connection.
"At the moment they have a disposal on site that's a bit of a problem for them," he said.
"The issue is that they want to decommission the plant they've got and connect into the recirculated system into Bowen.
"That is known and council doesn't have a problem with that.
"The detail about where the pipes go and how deep and how big is yet to be done."
Mr McGaffin also anticipated there would be negotiation over reticulated water and a recreation space, which he believed there was not demand for yet.
"We'll be asking them to develop and maintain it until such time that the need for a large ground is there and then it'll become a council asset," he said.
Mr McGaffin said the earliest he expected the project to be presented to the council would be the end of October.
"If we get the infrastructure contributions wrong it could impose an unnecessary burden on council and that's what we want to prevent," he said.
"We've got a responsibility to make sure the ratepayers aren't contributing more than they should over the short and the long term."
Mr Thomas said once the project received council approval, the company would start $40 million worth of infrastructure upgrades for the Bowen region and works would create 84 jobs almost immediately.
The infrastructure upgrades would include improvements to the Bruce Highway and to Bowen's water and sewerage system, he said.