Saturday, October 3, 2015


The piece, APPROVING GHOSTS, GRAND VISIONS AND EXPECTATIONS -see: wrote about the Gold Coast City Council's apparent approval of schemes that were still only very much a sketch plan – a broad concept, a rudimentary diagram. Council seems to latch on to, to be cajoled by the slick, promotional words and images that are cleverly selected to hype-up expectations, with just too little cynicism, too little criticism. Council's enthusiasm is seemingly out of scale with the quality and quantity of information provided, usually content that is designed to entice with positive WOW!s and long sighs of agreeable desire, apparently devised to lock in approving opinion while blocking out all thought of planning restrictions and controls, opening the doors to the possibility of allowing developers to get whatever they want. The illustrations of the approved projects were illusory, mere vague indications of possibilities, maybes. Large towers were ghosted in as transparent white washes that mingled with the clouds to suggest, well, perhaps that the scheme might not dominate its context or be anything but a good neighbour, impressive and complementary? The tall structures looked like ghosts of buildings. Now it seems that ghosts, unknown bodies, are approving major projects. What is happening? Are ghosts approving ghosts? What is known about this procedure? What is the process?

The ghosts of towers in a surreal world where there are few shadows.

Just how developed is this 'supertower' building proposal that has been approved, as the report noted? Is it merely a concept, big, super? It sounds as though it is so different that it needs a new word to describe it – 'supertower.' What technical information has been assessed? What environmental impacts have been researched? Have traffic implications been reviewed? Have services been assessed? Just what has gone on? Councillors apparently knew nothing about the project: see - (reproduced below). Perhaps this needs to be said again, so unbelievable is the story that Councillors apparently knew nothing about the approval before it was announced in the press. The Chair of the Planning Committee was reported as saying that he read about it in the local news! This all appears close to farce. Who are the ghosts that were given authority to approve something so secretly? Why keep it so quiet? Why not let the people's representatives have a say in the process? By isolating the Councillors, local residents are denied any say in the whole process of approving a scheme, said to be the first of many similar projects, that, it has been suggested, will change the face of their city. Locals will just get what the mystery group thinks is desirable. Is this good enough?

Who gave this secret group authority to assess and approve or otherwise what was put in front of it? Did the Councillors know about authority being delegated in this manner? It is all a very strange issue. One has to be concerned. Why bother having planning committees if they are going to be by-passed? Why have any town planning when secret groups can apparently agree to schemes that they privately think are satisfactory? The mayor seems happy with things. Did he orchestrate this arrangement so that the approval would be certain, unchallenged and fast-tracked? Is this a 'captain's pick' approval? It seems to look like it. Apparently the mayor discussed development when in China. In what detail? With whom? What promises were made? Was there a deal?

The matter needs to be looked at very closely to make sure that no required process or procedure has been misused or ignored. The mayor might like the idea of a rash of 'supertowers' striding over the Gold Coast, but what about others? Is there something in this arrangement that might benefit the mayor? Dare one suggest anything like this? The circumstance is so strange and unusual that it seems that one has to ask why? Has there been any statement to explain this enigmatically secret approval other than perhaps the cliché idea of 'getting rid of red tape'?

Why have a Town Plan if approvals are just going to be given by unknowns? Why have Councillors? This looks like banana republic despotism that does what it likes, when it likes, how it likes. Those who don't like it can go, or 'will be dealt with'! Has the scheme been approved just because it is big and involves big money? We need to consider more matters about our city more carefully. What is the best future for the Gold Coast? Indeed, what is the preferred population limit, the population density for the region before it becomes a shambles of an unmanageable city? We have found that growth just cannot go on forever, both in life and in economies. This is so for cities too. All impacts need to be carefully studied in detail by objective researchers. It has been discovered over time and with experience that it is pointless to ask the applicant to undertake studies as part of the submission. There would be no submission ever that would lodge documents that did not support the proposal. Everything is explained away until the problems are realised with completion, and then it is obviously too late. Everything is then done to ensure the outcome can be managed. It seems that someone, somewhere can always be found to facilitate such conclusions.

One has to look on appalled as this strange and brazen strategy is implemented. The approval needs to be put on hold so that the whole scheme can be put back on track and go through all of the required processes. This is democratic government, not a private development company, no matter how some might like to see it in this manner. Checks and balances must be a part of the process, not just cheques being made available for the construction with the balance, the outcome, being borne by everyone in the community. If the proposal is so good, why keep it secret? One can only assume that there is something to hide. What?

The Gold Coast
The proposed new tower will have more floors than the tallest existing structure.
It is reported as 'the first of a new generation of supertowers.'

Given this attitude to major development proposals, what chance is there for Springbrook, World Heritage or not? This is the Gold Coast where even the Councillors are surprised!


88-storey tower to rise on former Iluka site as one of the Gold Coast’s tallest buildings
SEPTEMBER 28, 2015 9:37AM
      Looking North from the Q1 displaying the length of shadows along Surfers Paradise Beach. (not a very sunny afternoon, not 
      much shadow) Photo: Kit Wise

A tower set to be among the largest ever built on the Gold Coast has been given approval.
The Bulletin can reveal that the Gold Coast City Council has given approval to the $1 billion Iluka development put forward by Chinese developer Forise.
The 88-storey tower by the Australian arm of Forise Holdings, led by Chairman Xin Wang will stand on the Surfers Paradise beachfront.
It would tower over existing buildings with the exception of Q1, which it would fall short of eclipsing in terms of height despite having more levels.
The Bulletin understands the project was approved under delegated authority by the council.
In July, Mayor Tom Tate praised the project.
“I expect we will see this development become an architectural icon that will enhance our own skyline and become world renowned in its own right,” he said.
“Success breeds success and I know a landmark development like this will entice more investors to look seriously at the Gold Coast.”
More to come.

      Iluka building artist impression. Supplied


Supertower for Iluka site to spark economic boom but councillors furious they were left out
SEPTEMBER 29, 2015 12:00AM
      GCB Artist impressions of the $1.2 billion 88-storey tower earmarked for the former Iluka site. Source: Forise Holdings.

AN 88-storey, $1.2 billion building set to dwarf Q1 has been approved and will be the first of a new generation of supertowers to sweep into Surfers Paradise.
However, the new project, the largest passed by the Gold Coast City Council, is already ruffling feathers, with councillors furious it was approved under delegated authority, meaning they had no say in it.
Plans show the new tower, planned for the former site of the Illuka high rise, on the Esplanade, Surfers Paradise, will have a private infinity pool and recreation deck on the 88th level, allowing patrons to party and enjoy a drink while looking down on Q1’s famous skydeck.
While the project is set to inject more than $2 billion into the economy, its approval under delegated authority meant most councillors were either aware of the development being appraised or were not able to have their say.
Burleigh councillor Greg Betts, who led the committee that created the city plan and has played a major role in shaping future development in the city, said he was unaware of the highrise put forward by Chinese developer Forise until he saw a report of it on the Bulletin’s website.
He and other councillors were left gobsmacked to discover the project had been approved.
It is unusual and unprecedented that’s for sure and I would have expected something of its magnitude would have gone to committee,” Cr Betts said.
Labrador councillor Margaret Grummitt said she was left shaking her head.
“Why are the councillors even here, if this can be approved without us?” she said.

      The 88-storey tower is expected to generate $70 million a year in visitor expenditure. Source: Forise Holdings.

Carrara councillor Bob La Castra said the decision to approve it without allowing councillors to give the project oversight was “staggering”.
Construction of the project will begin as early as March and will be completed by early 2020.
Despite having a higher number of storeys than Q1’s 78, the Sunland project’s giant spire will allow it to hold on to the title of the southern hemisphere’s tallest residential tower.
The project, the largest approved by the Gold Coast City Council, is now on the fast track to allow for rapid turnaround, with whispers in the industry that several billion dollars worth of Chinese-backed projects are set to come down the pipeline within months.

      Artist impressions of the $1.2 billion 88-storey tower earmarked for the former Iluka site. Source: Forise Holdings.

According to senior city councillors, the project will set the benchmark for future Surfers Paradise developments in terms of height and density, with the tower alone expected to bring at least $2 billion of economic benefit to the Glitter Strip.
It will have 693 luxury world-class apartments, three separate recreation deck levels and three podiums which are expected to have high-end shops.
Acting Mayor Donna Gates made the announcement yesterday and said it was “exciting”.
Cr Gates said the development met all planning requirements for approval.
“Along with Jewel and the Sheraton Mirage, it is a great indicator for how the city is going,” she said.
“The delegated approval will allow us to fast track it and get it delivered quickly so we can get something smartly on the beach.”

      Burleigh Councillor Greg Betts says he was unaware of the project’s approval.

It will annually generate more than 830 full-time equivalent jobs according to Forise, with a further 230 in the development services area.
If the project begins on time it is expected to open in early 2020, generating 65 full-time positions in its retail sector, 100 in its restaurants and 480 across its residential and accommodation sectors.
An economic analysis of the project by Macroplan Dimasi and provided by Forise suggested the project has the potential to annually generate up to $70 million in visitor expenditure based on an expected 280,000 visitor nights in short-stay accommodation each year.
Forise spokesman and lawyer Tony Hickey welcomed the news and praised Mayor Tom Tate.
“This will be a major economic driver for the city that would not have been possible without the … advocacy of the mayor who met with Forise a year ago in China and encouraged the group to invest on the Gold Coast,” he said.

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