One of the most ambitious eco-resort and housing developments seen in the Far North outside of the mooted Aquis venture in Cairns seems set to go ahead if the proponents get their way.
The proposed $650 million Kur-World resort at Kuranda held an open day at the 600 ha site on February 18, to showcase the project to local property owners and the public.
A timeline for the project recently released by the developers reveals consultants Reever and Ocean will deliver the draft Environmental Impact Statement in August this year.
Local property owners are relishing its release in September when it will be available for public consultation.
More than 70 people, many local, attended the property inspection where much interest was shown in the new dam, now full, that caused a lot of angst last year when it broke its bank during rain.
In November this year the EIS is expected to gain approval from the Queensland Coordinator General.
Chief Operations Officer Harry Sou said the Environmental Impact Study was the key to the project’s success indicating that their investors would be wary of any adverse findings.
“They will need surety,” he said.
Mr Sou said the development would be entirely self-sufficient and would not be a financial burden on any Mareeba Shire Council ratepayers.
“We will give preference to local tradesmen and material suppliers and do not propose to bring in any outside labour,” Mr Sou said.
In view of recent speculation after the failed 1500 pupil Standard Bearers Academy at Mareeba in 2015, Mr Sou stressed the makeup of the 500 student educational facility would be across the board, comprising Australian and international students, not from one country.
“We will lease out the faculty to either James Cook University, Central Queensland University, Latrobe or another Australian university,” he said.
“A part of the agreement with the faculty will ensure that we won’t try to market the unique courses in one country. The image is international.
“There will be boarders and day students with a focus on agriculture, green tourism, hospitality, environmental and organic courses.
“The business model has to survive, be sustainable and it would be way too sensitive to attract one group – it will be very versatile.”
Visitors toured a large organic vegetable garden growing a wide variety of normal and exotic plants watered by one of six bores on the property.
Project Manager Mark Lawson said organic farming would be a main feature of the green image, with the ability to supply vegetables for the resort.
The open day was not all beer and skittles when some pertinent questions about the adequacy of public infrastructure were directed at the Environmental Coordinator Neil Boland during his presentation.
Local protesters, members of the Kuranda Region Planning Group complained the strata development of 373 villas would place a huge burden on local facilities, in particular the water supply.
They maintained that residents mostly relied on bore water although there was some town supply available.
Nearby land owner Tanya Vickers warned the development was a threat to the lifestyles of all Kuranda inhabitants.
“The facilities like water, power and roads are insufficient and people will lose part of their properties to widen roads,” Ms Vickers claimed.
Responding, the Infrastructure Manager Nathan Lee Long said it was too early to predict what the outcomes of the EIS would be, and that he could not advise what effect it would have on local properties.
President of Kuranda Envirocare, Cathy Retter has long held reservations about the size of the resort and its social impact on the nearby and wider communities.
“We conducted a poll and we have had 400 responses so far. About 90 per cent were either somewhat against or strongly against the residential development,” Ms Retter said.
“These three bedroom villas will have to sell for around $750,000 and there are 373 proposed by 2023, with about 2000 residents using the Kuranda Range Road.
“The Initial Advice Statement said the resort will not have any impact on the range road, but add in 500 students and staff, of course it will.”
The developers hope to market the strata-titled villas locally, interstate and overseas and will be built in three stages over six years.
“We are going to work out what we would like to see with social and environmental outcomes,” Ms Retter said.
“There should be standards they are adhering to and a level of responsible stewardship.”