The Queensland state government has unveiled the blueprint for a park at The Spit on the Gold Coast which would rival London's Hyde Park in size, in what has been described as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The project aims to enhance the green space north of Sea World, and is expected to be linked by a light rail station in the future. The park would be around two-fifths the size of Central Park in New York, and just under a third of the size of King's Park in Perth.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced plans for almost 140 hectares of The Spit's 201 hectares to be set aside for park activities, as part of a draft plan that drew on consultation sessions and 21,100 pieces of feedback.
The Spit draft master plan comprises a seaway promenade, pavillion buildings including markets, rainforest and wetland areas, improved cycle and walkways through the dunes, an underwater sculpture garden for diving, a new marina with superyacht capacity, a dining hub and the potential for a cruise ship terminal.
"The open space areas on The Spit will be more than eight times the size of Brisbane's South Bank parklands, 12 times the size of the public spaces in Barangaroo, Sydney, and two-and-a-half times the size of Mt Coot-tha's Botanic Gardens," Premier Palaszczuk said.
"And the Gold Coast Ocean Park has something none of them have the Broadwater and the surf.
"Our plans will make this not just a jewel of the Gold Coast but for the entire state."
State Development Minister Cameron Dick said the rejuvenation of The Spit was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"The Spit master plan has been designed by the community for the community," Dick said.
"The process has brought consensus to an iconic part of the Gold Coast that has seen its share of conflict.
"The draft plan we are releasing today provides a clear pathway to an even brighter future for this much-loved public asset."
The new Ocean Park fulfils an election commitment and is the result of 18 months' consultation with community groups and the Gold Coast City Council.
Queenslanders paid 17,600 visits to the project website, while more than 2,500 people attended consultation sessions to have their say on the future of The Spit.
All of The Spit's current features, including the kiosk, marine rescue and boat ramps, will be retained and improved.
"Everyone loves buying prawns from the trawler fleet on The Spit," the Premier said.
"We want that feature to stay and be enhanced."
Dick said a new entry design to the park would lend a sense of arrival, with improvements to pedestrian, cycle and road access.
Parts of the park are earmarked for sensitive commercial development, but a Gold Coast City Council three-story height restriction will be retained as the government promised.
Mayor Tom Tate welcomed the Ocean Park blueprint.
"This is another great example of what can be achieved for the Gold Coast when we work together," Tate said.
"My council will continue to work with the state government to deliver something really special everyone can be proud of.
"I'll be urging my council to install the necessary infrastructure in partnership with the local major water users to supply an almost unlimited amount of recycled water to create and maintain a 'central park' style green open space for all Gold Coasters to enjoy."
Member for Gaven Meaghan Scanlon said locals will be thrilled to see everything they love about The Spit retained and new features added.
"You name the improvements on the coast: the light rail, hospitals, schools, the Commonwealth Games, improvements to the M1 it's this government that is investing in the Gold Coast's future," Scanlon said.
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