The dream that divided a community
By Nathan Evans
A $400 million eco-tourism resort "The Edge Noosa" proposed for the Noosa hinterland town of Kin Kin has driven a wedge between townsfolk who remain divided over the development's likely impact.
While one camp has described it as the "future lifeblood" of a village still hurting from industry closures and declining job opportunities others believe it will compromise Kin Kin's identity and set an irreversible precedent allowing "open slather" development.
Government departments are at odds over the proposed Dr Pages Road development, which the developer maintains will feature extensive nature refuge.
The Kin Kin Community Association, compromised of many long-time Kin Kin residents, claims the State Government's Office of Urban Management is ignoring the pleas of Kin Kin residents in its blocking the 522 hectare on the grounds it sits outside the urban footprint.
Principal campaigners for the opposing side maintain any relaxation of planning documents would throw Kin Kin's future growth and sustainability into uncertainty ? a view they claim the community shares, citing a petition to council and a postcard campaign by lobby group Noosa Parks Association.
Kin Kin Community Group President Rob McKeown has labelled the Titanium Enterprises development a long-awaited solution to what he described as a gradual decline in the town's economy since the closure of its timber and dairy industries, while highlighting Census data on household incomes for the town.
"We are one of the lowest wage areas in the state so employment is a big issue. Anyone in Kin Kin who has a job usually has to travel outside the area and we have problems with the road network and public transport," he said.
Heather and Peter Mills, residents of more than 30 years, said the proposed development had already provided them an income that meant they could stay in town.
"We owned one of the properties that Titanium bought and they took on my husband as caretaker and if it doesn't go ahead we would both have to start looking for jobs and when you're in your 50s it's hard to find work," Ms Mills said.
The developer claims the project, which promises Australia's first Raffles International hotel and unit accommodation as well as an 18-hole golf course, conference facilities, day spa and nature refuge areas on Dr Pages Road, will create 245 new jobs.
It has won support of Kin Kin's last remaining dairy farmer and resident of some 70 years, John Shepperson, who said the town desperately needed a major employment source to replace the declining farming culture that sustained previous generations.
"If you look at the dairy section there are only five dairy farmers left in the whole of Noosa Shire, there used to be 80 in this Valley alone," he said.
While Titanium is confident the resort will proceed following negotiations with the OUM, it has met staunch opposition from peak environmental group Noosa Parks Association, which has labelled the development a "test case" for the blanket planning document.
"It grossly violates the State Government's South East Queensland Regional Plan and Noosa Council's own town plan and our stance has been vindicated on the first front in that OUM has ruled that the development is excessive," said president Michael Gloster.
Noosa Council will deliberate the application on February 27.
While the Kin Kin Community group claims between 80 and 90% support for the resort, to be built on "degraded land", principal petitioners for the opposing camp, Aaron White and partner Kim Luff, claim strong support in their petition to Noosa Council.
"This petition was conducted at our own expense, presenting 432 signatures to Council opposing the development application," Mr White said.
"The general focus of feedback was on the consequences of handing the private sector a 522 hectare parcel of rural land."