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Back to the days of Skase: Port Douglas set for legal battle over huge resort plans

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Port Douglas, the idyllic north Queensland town that has charmed visitors with its mix of palm-lined beaches and pristine rainforest, is set for an epic court battle between a developer and the local council over its tourism future.

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Melbourne developer Paul Chiodo has taken the Douglas Shire to the Planning and Environment Court after it rejected his plans for a $300 million 5-star Fairmont resort.

The project, dubbed the town’s “biggest since Christopher Skase”, would see the first luxury resort in 15 years built in Port Douglas, long a playground for high-end tourists.

The council knocked back Chiodo’s development application in September, citing 18 grounds where the project failed to meet planning requirements.

The unanimous decision followed criticism from town planners that the six-storey resort would be too high, would create traffic problems and was “not in character with the area and local streetscape”.

This was despite local polls suggesting that about two in three Port Douglas residents support the project.

The developer says the Fairmont Port Douglas would have pumped more than $200 million into the local economy and created about 700 jobs.

Some of the town’s businesses were hoping the project would act as a lure for visitors, similar to the way Skase’s Mirage resort put the town on the international tourism map in the 1980s.

In his report on the project, Douglas Shire town planning officer Daniel Lamond said the council had received no “properly made” submissions on the resort when it went out for public notification.

“The proposed development is non-compliant with a significant number of planning scheme components due to its height, length, site cover, setbacks, bulk, scale and provision of facilities rendering it inconsistent with the character of the area,” he wrote.

“The proposal is in conflict the planning intent for the site and locality and is recommended for refusal.”

 

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