David vs Goliath
By JADE BILOWOL
ALANNA Alexander shelled out almost $200,000 in a David versus Goliath battle that saw a massive proposed Palm Beach development approved by the Gold Coast City Council overturned last week.
The Planning and Environment Court found the development, once earmarked for the majority of the block that borders the Gold Coast Highway, Fifth Avenue, Cypress Terrace and Fourth Avenue, clearly conflicted with important town planning regulations.
Last December the council controversially approved 21 relaxations of the town plan to pave the way for the proposed commercial and residential development that features six residential towers - three containing eight storeys, one with nine and two with 10.
The court found the most concerning of the relaxations - the council's approval of an eight-storey tower and part of a 10-storey tower in a three-storey zone and the other towers in a seven-storey zone - were enough to overturn the development's approval.
The development also flouted other town plan regulations including those that controlled density, the ratio of landscaped area, adequate green space and the "graduation" of the height of buildings from the east to the west of the block.
Ms Alexander and her husband James Edwards said they took the council and Palm Beach Developments to the Planning and Environment Court because it was the only way Ms Alexander could protect her "livelihood" - her business Alexanders On Fifth Real Estate.
"When I bought it I thought I could live with three-storeys but not 10," Ms Alexander said.
"It would have devalued my property and destroyed my livelihood - there would have been a big block wall on my boundary and no sunlight, not to mention 18 months of development with jack-hammering while trying to run a business.
"The court said it was difficult to imagine how this proposal could have more effectively alienated my property, both physically and aesthetically, and that my property would be rendered quite unsuitable for residential development."
She said the development's approval had spurred the most stressful time of her life.
"It was so stressful because it was all financial and you had no idea if you were going to win it," Ms Alexander said.
"It was also pushed out and I had to keep going - I was quoted $130,000 maximum but it's already at $186,000 and that is before my final costs for the barristers come through.
"Where is the justice for us? We are looking into how we can recoup these funds."
She said the case highlighted the need for revamped planning processes, improved community consultation and discipline for the council when considering inappropriate developments.
Councillor Daphne McDonald declined to com- ment on the development.