An ocean park with luxury yacht berths, underwater sculptures and a cruise ship terminal could be built on 140 hectares of nature reserve at Southport Spit on the Gold Coast.
A week after unveiling plans for $1 billion Vegas-style entertainments hub for the region, the Queensland government has revealed the multi-million-dollar revitalisation proposal for the area north of Surfers Paradise Main Beach.
The draft plan envisages seven precincts across the park, transforming 140 of the spit’s 201 hectares into one of the world’s largest parks.Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the development would be more than eight times the size of Brisbane’s South Bank parklands and 12 times bigger than the public spaces at Sydney’s Barangaroo development.
“And the Gold Coast Ocean Park has something none of them have – the Broadwater and the surf,” she told reporters this week.
“Our plans will make this not just a jewel of the Gold Coast but for the entire state.
“We all know how important tourism is, this will be a world-class attraction for the whole world to come and see.”
The area has long been the subject of contention, with previous plans for a casino development shelved in 2017 after widespread community concerns about its potential impact on local clubs, residents and wildlife.
The latest plan for its development has been 18 months in the making and, importantly, has the backing of environmental groups who have been fighting for decades to preserve the area.
Queenslanders have so far provided more than 21,100 pieces of feedback on the future of The Spit.
The ocean park would be divided the area into seven precincts:
- Top of the Spit
- Wave Break Island
- Federation Walk coastal reserve
- Muriel Henchman Park
- Village centre
- Philip Park
- Southern gateway
All of The Spit’s current features, including the kiosk, marine rescue and boat ramps, would be retained and improved.
The plan suggests development of a special curlew habitat, an underwater sculpture garden for divers and even a ‘selfie tower’ from which to capture the best shots of the Gold Coast.
Some 4000 sqm would be dedicated to a shore rainforest, a light rail extension to Sea World, a super-yacht marina and improved cycleways and walkways through the dunes.
“Sensitive” commercial development with a three-story height restriction would be permitted around Fisherman’s Wharf and Sea World.
Proposals for Philip Park precinct include two alternative outcomes – one envisaging the park as open space and another outlining a cruise ship terminal located in its northern section. The master plan does not include the provision for approval of a terminal, planners stating that “the decision will be subject to a separate process of approval that CoGC may pursue once the master plan has been released”.
The blueprint will be presented for consultation until the end of March before a final plan is released.
One local development which already has the green light is the Goldie’s first Quest Apartment Hotel at Robina.
Construction has begun on the eight-storey Pacific Highway project featuring 80 serviced apartments along with ground-floor retail, basement car parking, and 24 residential apartments.
Quest Apartment Hotels general manager for growth, James Shields, said: “We see Robina as a key commercial centre for the Gold Coast economy – evidenced by low office vacancy, iconic commercial towers and a range of drivers across the health, sporting and retail sectors to support future growth.
“Business trips to the Gold Coast have experienced an average growth of above 6.5 percent over the last six years which represents ten percent of the overnight domestic travel market.
“This provides a wonderful opportunity for Quest Robina to provide quality accommodation to meet this demand.”