Excerpt from an article in the Sunday Mail (QLD) October 25th 2015:
“TROUBLE is brewing in paradise with residents of the idyllic resort town of Airlie Beach accusing the council of putting the interests of Chinese developers ahead of locals.
Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Jennifer Whitney has become embroiled in the controversy, having declared a conflict of interest in relation to a company planning a $300 million Chinatown complex, but denies any financial interest or favouritism.
Proposals in the council’s new draft planning scheme would lift building height limits from four storeys to eight in much of the town’s commercial area and to 12 floors at the Port of Airlie.
“It will destroy the unique, charming, iconic lowrise low density character which attracts people to the town – and turn it into another Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast,’’ said Roger Down, spokesman for the Fight for Airlie group which has gathered 800 submissions opposing the plan.
The council has been working to woo Chinese investors to the tourist region for the past couple of years and opponents of the rezoning claim it is designed to suit them.
Cr Whitney said the council was keen to boost the region’s economy and job growth and any changes would be to benefit the whole area, not individuals.“Even though there’s some angst with building heights, people should be excited that the Chinese are interested in investing in our region,” she said.
One potential winner from raising height allowances is Whitsunday Chinatown Investment Pty which plans a $300 million Chinatown commercial, retail and residential development, with buildings up to eight storeys, on land it bought from the council last year.”