GLAM RESORT GREEN LIGHT
By PETER CATON
A $100-Million resort at Casuarina Beach is tipped to spark a new injection of investment and jobs for the Tweed Coast.
NSW Government approval for the Cotton Beach resort has delighted some - especially Casuarina residents - but angered others who had fought against developer plans to do away with esplanade carparking.
The resort, at the southern end of Casuarina township, is the first phase of a $350 million project planned by the Multiplex Group which has recruited Australian model and fashion designer Jodhi Packer as its promotional face.
Tweed Labor MP Neville Newell, who had passed on objections to the Government, yesterday said he hoped the approved plans would be "a good compromise" because 144 extra car spaces away from the beach would be created along with several 'pockets' of additional beachfront parkland.
Mr Newell said the extra parkland would maintain easily-visible public access to the beach.
Hundreds of jobs are also expected to be created during construction, which is tipped to start mid-year.
NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor gave the green light to the first stage of the Cotton Beach project late Friday, dismissing protests against plans to move carparking away from the beach.
Multiplex Developments Australia director Shane Bulloch said construction tenders were now being called and the building work would provide a timely boost to jobs following the completion of the Outrigger and Peppers resorts at Salt, further north.
He defended Multiplex's plans to move carparking away from the beachfront as proposed in the original masterplan for Casuarina Beach, saying the company had listened to the concerns of Casuarina residents.
Local residents feared an esplanade could have led to a repeat of problems on the Gold Coast where esplanades in areas like Southport have been taken over at night and on weekends by drag racers and hoons.
But others say removing the esplanade creates defacto privatisation of the beach, discouraging visitors.
"We feel pretty strongly about the arguments against the esplanade which was supported through long community consultation," Mr Bulloch said.
"Our plans enable the beachfront to be people space so you don't have conflict between cars and kids. "They also mean access points to the beach are defined. "It is a good outcome for all".
Casuarina Residents Association Julie Bennett said her association was "very happy" the developers had increased overall carparking.
They were especially pleased the carparking would be perpendicular to the beach "as opposed to running alongside it".
But Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association president Pete Gladwin said approval meant easy public access to the beach for shire residents, including thousands who would live in the nearby future development of Kings Forest, had been lost.
"It doubly means we have got to hang onto the next esplanade at the town centre of Casuarina Beach," he said.
"If we lose that one three kilometres of beachfront will be lost of the public and future generations."
Mr Gladwin said the masterplan which had included esplanades "predated" residents who had since moved to Casuarina and they should respect "the iconic Australian public right to have free flow to the beach".
Multiplex plans a five-star low-rise residential resort village spreading over seven hectares of prime beachfront land.