As reported by the ABC, the developer of a proposed retirement village on the former North Lakes golf course in Queensland had a small but significant legal victory last week. Moreton Bay Regional Council had sought advice on the legality of such a land use proposal, and were advised that the development application can be made and assessed by council planners.
The independent legal advice received by the Moreton Bay Regional Council confirmed that The Village Retirement Group’s (VRG) plan for the site could be assessed under the relevant Development Control Plan, as well as applicable state planning legislation. The plan would still be subject to public consultation, and the Save North Lakes group have declared that they maintain their opposition to the proposal and continue to fight to retain the open space nature of the golf course.
President of Save North Lakes, Andrew Cathcart, spoke to ABC Radio in Brisbane and pointed out that the legal ruling did not mean the development application would necessarily be approved, and that if it was they would likely appeal the decision anyway.
Said Cathcart of the opposition, "We don't give up. We don't stop. We don't back off, we just keep fighting.” He said. “We keep saying that the [proposal] is in stark contrast to the land use given. We don't want the open space changed to residential units.”
Whilst disappointing news for golfers hoping to retain some sort of layout at North Lakes, the legal advice received by council seems likely to fast track the application of VRG to convert part of the site into a retirement village. One only hopes that consultation can lead to some sort of compromise, and perhaps the retention of a 9-hole course, or some version of short-form golf.
The previous North Lakes golf course was both difficult and less appealing to newcomers than is ideal, yet the site is perfectly positioned geographically to accommodate golf in some form. VRG would be wise to consult with residents, former club members and the wider golf industry to find some sort of happy middle ground here.
From the ABC News website:
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Proposed retirement village for former North Lakes Golf Course overcomes one planning hurdle
A controversial plan to build a retirement village on a privately-owned former golf course in the Moreton Bay suburb of North Lakes may have taken a step closer to reality with legal advice confirming a development application can be made.
The proposal on the former North Lakes Resort Golf Course by the Village Retirement Group sparked years of community angst, after the golf club closed in 2018 and was sold to VRG in 2019.
The retirement group plans to build a retirement village and aged care facility on part of the former golf course and turn the remainder of the site into publicly available greenspace.
But some residents strongly objected to the proposal, saying they wanted the golf course to remain in operation as part of the original vision for the master-planned suburb.
No development application has yet been lodged, but last year the Save North Lakes Golf Course community group questioned whether the proposed development was legal under the council's own planning codes overlaying the golf course.
In a bid to end any confusion, Moreton Bay Regional Council offered to pay for independent legal advice to determine whether the retirement village could be legally developed, and whether the council could assess that development application.
The question boiled down to whether a retirement village was prohibited development under the existing Mango Hill Infrastructure Development Control Plan.
The legal advice from Christopher Hughes QC, released this week, concluded that the developer could apply to the council to vary or amend the control plan to permit the retirement village development.
A development application for the retirement village would then be assessed under both the Mango Hill Infrastructure DCP and state planning legislation. It would also be impact-assessable and subject to public consultation.
Moreton Bay Regional Council Acting Mayor Denise Sims said the council had sought the independent advice "to bring both the developer and the community group together".
"We know that there is anxiety out there in the community. We know there is confusion for the developer about two planning instruments, and that is why council proactively sought advice," Cr Sims said.
"Personally, I sincerely hope both parties will continue to work together constructively."
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