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Qld gov’t dumps five-tower Gold Coast casino resort, commits to ‘low-density’ masterplan

The Queensland government has terminated a proposal for a casino resort on a 5.5-hectare, government-owned site on the Gold Coast’s Southport Spit.

The site, located between the Sea World amusement park and the Gold Coast Fisherman’s Co-operative, was part of the original land parcel released for the development of an integrated resort in 2013 by the then-Liberal National government led by Campbell Newman. ASF Consortium was selected as the preferred proponent for the development in 2014 and, in 2015, Cox Rayner was appointed to develop a masterplan.

ASF Consortium unveiled a concept plan for the Gold Coast Integrated Resort development, designed by Blight Rayner, in December 2016. The plan consisted of five towers, ranging from 20 storeys to the east, adjacent to Sea World Drive, to 45 storeys to the west, facing the Coral Sea.

The proposal has attracted swathes of criticism from local residents concerned about the height of the towers and the environmental and traffic impacts the development might have had on the area. The current Gold Coast City Plan imposes a three-storey height limit for the area.

The proposal for the Gold Coast Integrated Resort designed by Blight Rayner.

The proposal for the Gold Coast Integrated Resort designed by Blight Rayner.

Image: Courtesy ASF Consortium

ASF Consortium’s proposal is the second high-rise development to be abandoned in as many years due to excessive height. In September 2016, a Zaha Hadid Architects-designed twin tower proposal for a site a few hundred metres from the would-be casino resort site was withdrawn by the developer following similar community backlash and a Gold Coast City Council resolution to delay a decision of the development application. The council called on the Queensland government to jointly develop a masterplan for the area because as Cameron Caldwell, Gold Coast City Council’s planning committee chair, said in September 2016, “the state has significant interests in this location.”

Following ASF Consortium’s release of the concept plan, the government held independent consultations with the community, which ended in April.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the consultation process uncovered a number of community concerns, principally in relation to the effect high-rise developments would have on traffic in the area.

The government will now move forward with a community-led masterplanning process for the whole of The Spit, which comprises around 190 hectares of land, including 140 hectares of parkland at the northern tip.

“This will be a central parkland of the Gold Coast,” Palaszczuk said.

The government has also ruled out any development of an integrated resort on The Spit, but not elsewhere in on the Gold Coast.

“That casino license will remain on the Gold Coast but there will be no integrated resort development on The Spit,” Palaszczuk said at a press conference.

“We need to ensure that character is preserved for future generations. To be clear, this is not a decision that rules out a future Integrated Resort Development on the Gold Coast.”

Queensland planning minister Jackie Trad said, “The masterplan that we’re committing to deliver today ensures a future for The Spit which is in accordance with Gold Coast Council’s planning scheme.”

“This locks in low-density, three-storey development for our future generations.

“It also helps get the balance right between protecting environmental and community values and allowing appropriate commercial development.”

The masterplan is expected to take 18 months to complete.

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