Storm clouds gatheras Council resumes

By YVONNE McLEAN

THE Gold Coast City Council is back at work this week with committee meetings setting the agenda to what is likely to be another year with some volatile sessions.

The boil-over issue of the proposal to sell off the Surfers Paradise Transit Centre is far from resolved and rates issues including a proposal to slash the 10 per cent discount for payment on time to five per cent along with other rates concerns following current higher land valuations must provoke passionate debate.

However, the city planning committee (which last year replaced the two planning and development committees) can expect a smoother ride over the next year according to its chairman, Cr Ted Shepherd.

"The property market has slowed down, we're noticing a pause in property sales and developers putting some projects on hold simply because they cannot afford infrastructure charges without the guarantee of sales," he said.

"The past three years have been hectic, almost unprecendented for fast developments of housing estates, so this slow down is a good thing for the council and its staff who are coping with new building codes and new regulations.

"Staff will hopefully now have time to clear the back log. However demand for housing in the Coomera region could well stay a hot spot."

The prestige high-rise component of Gold Coast development remains positive with major projects underway at Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach and Coolangatta.

Cr Shepherd said this year would see the beginning of the transformation of old shabby sites at the prime tourist suburbs.

"Last year major developments of great merit began at Coolangatta and perhaps the southern town, once the Gold Coast's holiday capital, would claim the crown again," he said.

He also forecasts an end to design conformity in apartments and resorts.

The planning committee was looking for architectural merit in design, better looking buildings which attracted admiration.

"Our leading developers are taking up our challenge," Cr Shepherd said.

Under the State Government's Regional Development Plan, there will be no relaxing of the government greenspace plan and properties outside urban developments will be restricted to subdivisions no less than 100 hectares.

The government plan will also permit greater density of housing close to transport.

Cr Shepherd said three-storey walk-ups could be approved in certain residential streets. But he emphasised regular public transport closeby was a criteria.

"I am predicting more future applications for duplexes," he said.



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