Court overrules Coolangatta high-rise approval after council reversed its own decision in 'unique' case
A Queensland court has overturned the Gold Coast City Council’s approval for a Coolangatta high-rise in what is being described as an “exceptional, unique and different” case.
In April last year, the Gold Coast City Council approved the 27-storey Komune building, which was to include a hotel and apartments on the Greenmount end of Coolangatta.
The council’s planning department had recommended councillors support the project.
But things took an unusual turn when the body corporate for the neighbouring Lindor building appealed to the Queensland Planning and Environment Court.
After that legal action was launched, the Gold Coast City Council reversed its position and submitted to the court that the project should be rejected because its height, density and scale conflicted with the city planning scheme.
Judge Michael Rackemann agreed and after nine months of deliberations, he upheld the appeal, finding significant conflicts with both the 2003 and 2016 planning schemes.
Decision on public interest grounds
University of Queensland planning academic, Laurel Johnson, said the court case was decided on public interest grounds.
“What the judge found was there was no public interest in a 27-storey tower being approved at Coolangatta and that the public interest was in the planning scheme as it existed, which was a much lower height and bulk for that site,” she said.
“So the judge was really, really in favour of the planning process in a lot of ways and in favour of the planning scheme.”
She said this case was peculiar because of council’s decision to change its position.
“It feels like there has been some waste of public money and time, I am sure the developer is frustrated, I am sure council is frustrated and most of all the local residents are frustrated,” she said.
Ms Johnson said council should look closely at what happened with the Komune case.
“It would be in the interest of council to really scrutinise this decision-making process and to really try what figure out happened in this case because it is so exceptional, unique and different.”
Neighbours happy with win
Lindor’s Don Gordon said its residents were happy with the court outcome.
“We just hope that is the end of the matter, but the developer still has the opportunity to appeal that decision and he has 30 days to do that,” he said.
Mr Gordon said the Komune building would have had a big impact on the 10-storey apartment building he lived in.
“This building was going to be 27 storeys high, within one metre of my bedroom, with amplified music okayed by the council from 8 o’clock to midnight,” he said.
“There was going to be 194 bedrooms with parking only for 155, and if you know Coolangatta and Greenmount, on a Sunday morning people just wouldn’t get a park.”
Councillor wanted project approved
But Coolangatta-based councillor Gail O’Neill said she was disappointed with the court decision.
Councillor Gail O’Neill still hopes the Komune development is passed. (Supplied: Gail O’Neill Facebook)
“It is in an area where 50 metres up the road there is a 21 and 20 storey building — it did not cast a shadow on the beach at all, it did not cast a shadow on the neighbours, it had three street frontages,” she said.
Cr O’Neill said Coolangatta would miss out on the economic opportunity the project would have provided.
She also backed the planning process.
“I know the assessment period for some of these development applications is lengthy and it should be and again that proves the process works.”