Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

January 15th 2010
Juniper respond to Radical questions

The prospect of Magnetic Island's second gated residential development, this one at Radical Bay, took another step forward in the days before Christmas, when developer, Juniper Property Holdings, submitted a revised plan and its response to questions about the proposed subdivision that were raised in December 2008 by Townsville City Council and state government departments.

Arguing that Radical Bay has a history of urban use stretching back to 1922, Juniper, in its revised proposal, retains its plan to subdivide the freehold land into 24 residential blocks, although the blocks are smaller than originally planned - ranging from 587 to 854 sq. m, with an average of 705 sq.m, and the most common size being 653 sq.m. Buildings on four of the 24 blocks (including that set aside for the caretaker's dwelling) will need to be on stilts or poles in order not to effect groundwater recharge. Fitting this number of blocks of this size onto the freehold land available would appear to be possible only if the setback from the national park and USL is less than the 50 m required by the state.

For a high resolution image of the
proposed development (click here) Ed.

For a high resolution survey image
of the site (click here) Ed.

Many of the questions asked by TCC and what is now the Department of Environment and Resources Management (DERM) related to the clearance of vegetation, particularly of remnant vegetation and vegetation likely to require approval before clearing (‘assessable’ vegetation), and of vegetation within 25 m of the creek that runs around the back and eastern side of the subdivision. However, Juniper points out that there is no vegetation - and definitely no assessable vegetation - within the development site. This may come as a surprise to readers who have not been down to Radical Bay for a while and who remember the area as being fairly well treed. In the past few years, as before and after photos show, almost all of the vegetation in the flat area of the bay behind the beach has gone.

Magnetic Times looked at the clearing issues back in 2006 (click here) and made the following before and after panoramas to illustrate the extent of clearing.

Radical Bay 2002

Radical Bay 2006

TCC also expressed concern about the original plan to construct a boardwalk public access track on the eastern extreme of the development, the location of the ephemeral creek. In the revised plans, Juniper proposes relocating the public access track to the western edge of the development site. Members of the public would, thus, access Radical Bay beach by way of a 500 metre walking track winding its way from the carpark – located inland of the development – and around the western (Balding Bay) side of the subdivision. Other access points would be via the Horseshoe Bay/Balding Bay walking track or from the water.

Despite their proximity to the water, Juniper states that all the residential blocks would be outside the current erosion prone area – set by the Beach Protection Authority as 60 metres inland from the toe of the foredune, and that this distance means that residential lots would be outside the area likely to be affected by tides associated with a one in one hundred year cyclone event and by climate change.

To ensure that the appearance of the development and its management meets the requirements and Desired Environmental Outcomes of TCC's City Plan, a series of regulations would be established under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997.

These regulations would relate to matters including: building style and pet management. It is proposed to bar cats entirely while dogs under 10kgs are permitted but must be controlled by a lead. Turtle-friendly lighting is also proposed. While such approaches seem laudable the ongoing evidence of dog owners flouting such laws across the public lands of the Island suggest little will be different at Radical. As with all such means of regulation, compliance is controlled by the body corporate or its agent and changes are determined by the members of the body corporate, the block owners.

The issue of road access to the development site is a complex one. Permits to Occupy provided earlier in order for Juniper to progress an approved plan for a tourist resort at Radical Bay are understood to be tied to that development and to be not transferable. Earlier designs for the upgrade of the road for the tourist resort were approved by the then City Council. Whether or not such approval would be forthcoming for the revised approval is unclear. TCC's earlier approval of the road upgrade designs was conditional upon Council not having to provide the subdivision with a garbage service. On the assumption that permission to use and upgrade the road eventuates but that no garbage service will be provided by Council, Juniper proposes to transport bins from the proposed subdivision to a site agreed with the waste contractors. Currently, this is expected to be the intersection of the Radical Bay track and Horseshoe Bay road, presumably in the vicinity of what is known as the Forts car park.

Current conceptual plans for sewage disposal at the subdivision indicate that sewage will be pumped from the site via a rising main following the track out of Radical Bay. How far this Juniper-financed main will go along the route to the wastewater treatment plant at the far southwestern corner of Horseshoe Bay is not mentioned.

The proposal currently before Council sees the road to Radical Bay being upgraded by Juniper. Remaining in essentially the same place, it would be widened from its current 4.5 m to 6 m, and services (water, electricity, sewerage etc) would be located within a 20 m road reserve.

Once upgraded, Juniper would seek to have the road gazetted. As a gazetted road it would be the responsibility of the Council. Juniper sees its upgrading of the road as being a benefit to the community - and this, along with its proposed upgrading of the public car park on the landward side of the development, its contribution to a public access track to the beach and vegetation upgrade on the esplanade, is seen as justification for not providing public open space within its proposal.

Overall, Juniper alleges that any negative environmental impact of its new proposal that cannot be avoided or mitigated could be managed appropriately, but acknowledges that it will need to be submitted to the Federal Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) for consideration.

Story and photos: George Hirst
Site plans and survey map supplied courtesy of MacDonnells Law (representing Juniper)

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Juniper respond to Radical questions
January 15th 2010
Down with developers,and TCC town planers have never been any good,,,look around. !!!
Alan Renton
January 15th 2010
One word, dreadful!
January 15th 2010
So Juniper wants Townsville Council to accept their generous offer of a newly minted Magnetic Island road that is so steep, tightly-turning and narrow in places that it cannot carry heavy vehicles? That public buses can't access. That pedestrians have to share with traffic like the road from Nelly to Arcadia. That ratepayers will later have to pay for reconstruction and re-aligning. A road only benefitting a tiny number of (probably absent) indulgent investors and a few lazy, couldn't-be-bothered tourists and locals who would prefer to drive their cars and Toorak tractors to a car park at the beachfront of every bay on Magnetic Island - even if only once in their sorry lives.
And the Commonwealth and State governments must approve the creation of a massive new scar across the landscape (a 50% widening of the tarmac) to locate this road in the most stupidly ignorant position conceivable because that was what they did back in the 1970s when the Bjelke Peterson government would let people do whatever they liked if the price was right.
But of course some downtrodden shopkeeper somewhere probably believes this is his right and no doubt our try-hard council will try to keep them happy. It's how we are.
January 15th 2010
Deja vu? A gated community that does nothing to contribute to the ambience of what makes Maggie special, and that positively repels visitors. Destruction of vegetation, habitat, scenic and World Heritage value. Vague, unenforceable promises about how lovely it will be. On-going expense for rate-payers. Oh, and the old chestnut - 'the development is the price we pay for a [insert whatever]'. This time, for a road (to a beach with limited public access)'. Just as the Nelly Bay Harbour development was the price we paid for a 'safe harbour'. Will we never learn?
Joan G
January 15th 2010
And it’s not just the road that we would be ‘wearing’ on behalf of the self-indulgent gated few, chasmac. Envisage the 48 wheelie bins lined up at the start of the Forts/Koala Park track – handily out of sight (and smell) of the gated few, but there for the visitors to our World Heritage island to 'enjoy'.
Judy Chapman
January 15th 2010
The TCC City Plan includes the instruction ‘Ensure development does not prejudice the values of World Heritage areas and other identified conservation areas or areas having significant scenic/visual appeal’.

Now consider:
1. Radical Bay (part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area) has an international reputation for its scenic appeal.
2. Research by the State government in its development of a revised Coastal Management Plan makes it abundantly clear that buildings of any shape or form are considered by the public to degrade scenic/visual appeal.

Put these two together and it is obvious that a residential subdivision at Radical Bay would prejudice significant scenic/visual appeal and thus be in contravention of the City Plan. Add to that the effect caused by the road upgrading, storage of bins etc etc., and a valuable area on the island would be spoiled irrevocably.

We must not allow the greed of a few to let this happen.
Mal H
January 15th 2010
Call me cynical, but I reckon it's a sure bet that Juniper's will promote the World Heritage status of the island and the surrounding national park to promote its property. What urban investor wouldn't want their own share of paradise with Elle as a neighbour? Gotta keep the local riff-raff out though....
Seriously, if those of us who oppose such schemes were to put our money where our words are, what could we achieve? Venting our opinions may make us feel better, but what can we actually do?
I would prefer the property to revert to national park, with an ongoing revegetation scheme and the addition of composting toilets and perhaps limited camping facilities. A fee should be paid to the national parks for the privilege of staying in such a beautiful place, the revenue going towards improvement of the site's natural beauty and upkeep of the facilities.
Our national parks are for the preservation and promotion of biodiversity, and for the education and enjoyment of everyone, not just some developers and a select few.
How can we lobby State government to take such action?
Protester #1
January 15th 2010
...and if it is surely to go ahead, there is definitely no way it could be stopped, what with the numerous island protesters and the tiny "surface area" that is the Florence intersection.
January 15th 2010

Boy, How stupid would you be to build on land which is marked on the Townsville & Thuringowa Tsunami Evacuation Guide as a 'possible area of inundation'!?

Guess you would also need to be prepared to lose at lot, as I can't see any insurance company wanting to know you let alone come to your party, 'metres from the water in a low - lying cyclone area'.
Chris C
January 15th 2010
I'm with you Ben - TCC should ask to see their insurance policy before even thinking about anything else.

Good article george
January 15th 2010
Keep in mind readers that Magnetic Island has been World Heritage since about 1982. No government has said 'no - period' just because of World Heritage (witness Nelly Bay harbour, Port Hinchinbrook etc).
On the other hand there has never been a R-O-A-D to Radical Bay. A road in Queensland must be gazetted. Setting aside a road reserve changes the tenure of the land - a road is 'Opened' - a specific legal action controlled by the state government. The private 'track' to Radical is actually on Unallocated State Land (USL) which can only be made into road reserve by the government. So it's not an 'upgrade', it's actually the creation of a brand new road where there was never a ROAD before.
As for 'how stupid would you be to build on land which is marked on the tsunami map' - South Townsville, Railway Estate, Bushland Beach and those new suburbs in the Bohle River area are all well inside that zone. Juniper's 79 storey residential tower "Soul" under construction on the Gold Coast is probably also right in the tsunami zone. Does anyone care? Capitalism seems to have built its reputation on this kind of calculated risk.
January 16th 2010
How hillarious! Infra-structure costs of sewage pumping main and road works will be huge - tens of Millions!Body corporate costs associated with future maintenence horrific! Building costs??? - Well Nobby's is a great example so buyer beware!!! All topped off with TCC still applying extreme rateable values to a "precinct" that they will provide no services to? By my reckoning this makes that average block (705 Sqm) worth about $4 mill with body corporate fees well in excess of $50k per year and builing costs at $4,000 per Sqm. I'll lay down $500 to anyone that challenges my cynicism if all blocks are sold within next 5 years! A pipe dream, so don't stress greenies. Ha ha ha....
Bruce Williams
January 16th 2010
Seems well researched, George. One question needs to be asked: "Where are all the Mainland Protesters to the Florence Bay proposal?" Have they grown too old to care? Do they now holiday on Hamilton Island? Perhaps they are lining up for a Radical Block! The current Radical proposal is now a hot potato on Magnetic Island, why doesn't Townsville seem to care?
Wendy Tubman
January 16th 2010
The real tragedy of Radical Bay is the possibility that a residential subdivision will be created in a pocket of World Heritage listed coastal land surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Magnetic Island National Park and Unallocated State Land (future National Park) that has high conservation/biodiversity values, contains two endangered ecosystems that are not well represented in reserves in the bioregion, and is habitat for endangered, rare and vulnerable flora and fauna.

According to a report commissioned by the Federal government (Kenchington & Hergel 2005), the site and adjacent area manifests18 World Heritage values which are either uniquely or significantly expressed on Magnetic Island.

Creation of a housing estate at Radical Bay will, inevitably, jeopardise the entire northeastern region of the island, introducing much greater traffic use (particularly with the ratepayer-supported road built primarily for the use of the gated few), exotic vegetation (including weeds) and animals, changed water regimes, and light and noise pollution into the, until now, protected bays, lowland ecosystems and hills.

And, of course, damage would be that much greater if the vulnerable, unprotected site were ever to be hit by a cyclone or storm surge - with on-site pollutants being washed into the bay and distributed into the surrounding hills and lowlands.

The developer’s claims that the subdivision would be undertaken in a way that avoids or minimises any damage to the environment and that the estate would be controlled and managed by building regulations ring hollow given that so much of the vegetation – including protected vegetation – has already been cleared from the site.

Regulations to protect our precious natural resources need to be strengthened and better enforced, and we, the people, need to be ceaselessly prepared to challenge violations, and unforgiving of governments that allow community assets to be squandered and exploitation to continue.
John C
January 17th 2010
Why is it that when we have such a beautiful beach in the middle of a world heritage area, someone has to "develop" it - surely we have enough developed beaches already! is this development really sustainable? Low-lying, a high-maintenance road, pumping sewage over the hill (better than swimming in it I suppose!), paying someone to take the garbage up the the junction - and on it goes. This would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic for the environment.
January 18th 2010
No development at Radical Bay its to beautiful and it should be left for all to enjoy.
Skeptic Skeptic
January 19th 2010
It gets me thinking that Juniper must be full of climate deniers. They're building that whopping great "Soul" on the beach at the Gold coast - a very vulnerable spot you'd have to think these days and now want to risk some more investment at Radical Bay.

Anybody who was here early last year and saw what a storm that wasnt even a cyclone did at Radical - spilling right over the front dune and pooling down near some of the trees marked in on that artist's impression, would be thinking "Nice place to visit..." at best.

We know that just a little bit of sea level rise goes a lot further inland with a good storm behind it and a serious cyclone - maybe even forming up north right now - could make places like Radical a truly radical place to live. But hell, maybe all the deniers should just put their addresses where their mouths are and buy into beachfront around the world and enjoy it while they can. But dont dare ask us ordinary bods and our Councils to come to your rescue when the surf's up. And hopefully you are rolling in enough of it to have no need of insurance. I saw that over a year ago Alliance - just about the biggest insurance company in the world - pulled up stumps in north Queensland due to climate change. Maybe Larry scared them off and Larry didnt even have a storm surge to speak of. You'd have to reckon others will soon follow.
Sylvia Hayes
February 1st 2010
Great article George. I cannot imagine any more inappropriate development on our island.
An absolute travesty. We the residents cannot allow this to happen.
When is the next council meeting? I'll be there and I will protest loudly. Bring it on!
Doug & Maggie
June 16th 2010
As frequent visitors to your (still) beautiful island from interstate we are very sad to see the misguided vandalism taking place in the name of "tourism" or "progress". We have been dealing with this type of environmental issue for forty years now and we appear to have learnt nothing from the catastrophes caused by careless, incompetent and unnecessary development. Please keep fighting for Magnetic Island so that our grandchildren will be able to enjoy its beauty.
John Punshon
November 2nd 2010
As a past resident of Maggie, i used to enjoy drinking and eating at the bar at Radical. It was a shame to see it fall in to disrepair in the early 90's. I encourage a revamp of Radical with an accessible road. Not all of us are back packers - we need vehicular access to enjoy the beauty of Radical. My understanding is that the proposed development is set well back from the beachfront. I would love to live there in my retirement. When will the blocks be available for sale? J. Punshon (ex Cockle bay)

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