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Why the Gold Coast Council is asking the government for help

By Andrew Bell

The controversial plans for a pair of residential apartment towers on the Southport Spit have forced the Gold Coast Council into requesting help from state government.

Controversy over building application

Sunland’s application to build two 44-storey towers in a $600million development was originally made in June last year, and has encountered heated debate ever since.

There are both pros and cons to the building of the towers, with tourism and property on one hand, and stretched resources and the skyline on the other.

There are both pros and cons to the building of the towers, with tourism and property on one hand, and stretched resources and the skyline on the other.

While the additional 350 residential apartments and aquarium, museum and gallery could be a great addition to the region, it could also add extra strain on the local roads. Plus, the proposal goes well above the current three-storey ceiling rule for buildings in the area. Therefore, debate has been carried out over whether the residential and tourism benefits are strong enough to outweigh the potential congestion and skyline changes the towers could bring to Southport.

A council divided

Up until now, the team of 14 Gold Coast councillors has been split in the decision. Their vote on the matter was initially deferred for a day to give the planning team more time to address traffic concerns, until September 15, when the group finally voted on the proposals.

On Thursday, instead of voting on the towers, the council opted to defer the decision for at least another year. This would allow time for the Queensland government to contribute a master plan for the area, which may help shape the council’s decision to either go ahead with the plans or not.

It’s not just the council divided on the topic, either. Two major community groups have strongly opposed the development, with both ‘Save Our Broadwater’ and The Main Beach Association getting together to argue against the towers. The two groups funded a Reachtell poll that asked 1,134 Gold Coast residents for their thoughts on the project, and found that 58.6 per cent opposed it or supported a three-storey structure instead, 30.5 per cent supported a taller-than-three-storey building, and 10.9 per cent were on the fence.

The sheer scale and design elements of the towers have already seen them being compared to the Sydney Opera House.

Architects have also weighed in on the debate. The sheer scale and design elements of the towers have already seen them being compared to the Sydney Opera House, and even the Eiffel Tower, in terms of how iconic they could one day become. It is perhaps pertinent then to note that the Eiffel Tower was once considered immensely ugly by locals. The Spit’s towers design is by world-renowned (and now late) Zaha Hadid of Zaha Hadid Architects, the same group behind a 54-level skyscraper currently in consideration for Melbourne’s CBD.

The next steps

While many pro-towers supporters are frustrated by the delay, anti-towers groups are celebrating the deference and claiming that it’s now unlikely that they will go ahead.

In the mean time, the council will be able to further consider plans to deal with any negative issues around the towers, such as traffic problems, and receive guidance from the Queensland government. However, Philip Follent, a former Queensland government architect, said that it’s unlikely the council will receive a master plan within the time frame, as it takes more than 12 months to prepare one, according to Architecture AU.

Should the towers not go ahead even after another year, there has been talk of a shopping centre being built on the site instead.

If you’re looking to get into a residential apartment on the Gold Coast – but don’t want to wait for debates and approvals, take a look at what Ray White Surfers Paradise has to offer right now.

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