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Trouble in Paradise: How a 1.6km bike path has divided wealthy beachfront suburb

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The Gold Coast City Council may face a lengthy court battle to decide if it is able to build a $7.7 million cycle and pedestrian path along sand dunes fronting some of the coast’s most expensive homes and high rises.

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The council has won state government approval to build the Surfers South Oceanway which will complete one of the last remaining missing pieces of the the popular foreshore pathway running the length of Gold Coast between Duranbah and The Spit.

However, a local community group, the Surfers Beachfront Protection Association, has lodged an appeal against the decision to approve the link in the Planning and Environment Court.

The 4 metre-wide concrete path would run along a 1.6km stretch of sand dunes from Laycock St at Surfers Paradise to First Avenue at Broadbeach. Pedestrians and cyclists currently have to negotiate narrow footpaths and busy streets to travel between Surfers and Broadbeach.

The council estimates that up to 9400 walkers and cyclists a day are using the current route. The Surfers South Oceanway would provide a safer alternative, it says, and would ensure people would not have to cross multiple driveways and side streets.

It insists the path would not interfere with the structural integrity of seawalls buried beneath the dunes and that all existing beach accesses from private homes would be preserved.

However, the Surfers Beachfront Protection Association insists the path would result in significant destruction of the beachfront dunal system which is vital to protecting homes and buildings from beach erosion.

“The construction of the path during significant storm events will encourage and facilitate people accessing the coast dune area when such acmes is both dangerous and likely to place State emergency services personnel at risk in carrying out rescue and recovery operations.”

Documents lodged before the court insist the planned walkway would “cause, or has the potential to cause, serious environmental harm” in breach of the Environmental Protection Act.

The group wants the development approval to be scrapped and the court to order that no preliminary work on the path be done until the outcome of the appeal.

The group says it was formed to “preserve natural amenity and sand dunes of the central Gold Coast beachfront and beachfront suburbs”.

Local MP Ray Stevens has long railed against completing missing links of the Oceanway in his up-market Mermaid Beach electorate, calling the work “environmental vandalism”.

“This project is bureaucratic madness gone haywire when we already have nature’s perfect walkway called ‘the beach’.,” he told state parliament earlier this year.

“As for cyclists in their mamil gear whizzing along the cycleway, there are many designated cycleway spaces on our roads to accommodate their needs. Let’s not concrete paradise.”

 

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