THE Gold Coast is being split into "go" and "no go" zones in a city council bid to give certainty to developers and residents alike.
City Plan 2015 Special Committee chairman Cr Greg Betts is braced for developers testing the new plan in court, but he says legal opinion has indicated it is a "watertight" document that will shape the city's development future for the next decade.
Under the plan, more development is being encouraged along transport corridors, with a strong focus on the light rail and its proposed extensions to the north and south.
The council has used a key report, commissioned last year and authored by demographer Bernard Salt, to frame its expectations of the development community to provide residents the best bang for their buck.
Salt estimates the Gold Coast population will double to 1.2 million over the next 30 years, and the council wants to contain much of that growth within existing urban zones.
Betts has dismissed fears that the city could become an unwieldy concrete jungle that will diminish lifestyle.
"We're never going to be Manhattan here, but we do want to focus development in certain areas to take advantage of infrastructure already there," he says.
"What we are trying to achieve is more certainty for the development industry and for residents by saying these are the areas here we want development and growth to occur. The other areas we're trying to keep the amenity as it is and not see too much change happening.
"The last scheme was quite open to interpretation a lot more. We are trying to be more definite about where we want things and how we want things to be built."
Betts says the plan will protect low rise areas more effectively, leading to what he believes will be fewer legal challenges to council decisions by developers. He says many of the changes have stemmed from previous Planning and Environment Court decisions.
The new town plan comes ahead of the long-delayed South East Regional Plan from the state government, although the council has been working closely with the state in drafting its current proposal. It is understood that the new state government has not made changes to the regional plan proposal, which is expected to make adjustments to the existing urban footprint to accommodate expected growth in the region.
Betts concedes that despite the "no go" policy in the new plan, changes will be inevitable due to ongoing population pressures.
"We'll deal with that as it comes up on a case-by-case basis, but generally this plan is all about trying to focus the attention of the development industry where we have services and transport," he says. "It makes it a lot easier for them to develop and for us to cope with growth."
The development industry appears to back the new town plan, with Steve Harrison, director of Harrison development Group and Mayoral Technical Advisory Group and Board member, saying the plan offers certainty for developers, particularly around height and density.
"Business is looking for a lot of certainty and confidence," Harrison says.
"What we are looking for is areas where developers can go in, have certainty, take on board the risks and create some great outcomes in the urban form.
"From an industry perspective we'd love to see the state government sign off on the city plan quickly. We want that uncertainty to end."
The city plan will seek endorsement from the full city council on Friday before going to the state government for final sign-off.
Betts says the council will work with the State Government on any planned changes to the urban footprint.
"We have a town plan that will work with them - it's a document that is flexible enough to work with whatever they come back with. We have identified investigation areas that could potentially become residential areas in the future and I would imagine the state will be looking at those if they want to increase the urban footprint."
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