Then there’s the “People’s Park” affair, where a notice appeared on the corner of the park opposite the Queens beach pub, asking for community input on a proposal to expand Wangaratta Caravan Park across the area where the skate bowl is located. 

The ensuing ruckus was enough to sink the proposal, but what would have happened if a couple of people hadn’t stopped to read the sign and taken the time to think about the matter? Had the expansion gone ahead could we have been presented with a situation where the caravan park was “no longer a viable proposition” (a consideration which, if I recall correctly, was being used to justify the proposal to expand it in the first place)?

And when the caravan park ceased to be a viable operation what would have happened to the land? It wouldn’t, by any chance, have been seen as an ideal site for unit development?

Taking the scenario to its logical conclusion, when people started to object to that idea, I suppose they would be told that “no one objected when the caravan park was expanded, so why are you complaining now?”

I make that point because that “No one complained back then, so why are you doing it now?” seemed to be the reaction when concerns about high-rise development and the Town Plan were raised earlier this year (2008). 

A proposal to build a high-density four-storey block of units in the middle of Queens Beach resulted in a petition calling for a review of the Town Plan being circulated, gathering over a thousand signatures. 

While that was happening the official Council position seemed to be that the current Town Plan was the result of a lengthy process and considerable public consultation and that the proposed zoning had been widely advertised, so why on earth were people objecting now?

The answer to that question is that people almost certainly didn’t notice the elephant lurking in the fine print, and if they did, assumed that the prospect of anyone wanting to build a four-storey high-density unit complex in the middle of a low-rise residential area was too remote to worry about.  

We’ve recently had another chance to make our opinions known when the Department of Water and Natural resources announced the Bowen State Land Planning Study, which was the subject of an article on the front page of the Bowen Independent, an advertisement calling for submissions, a radio news item or two, a couple of letters to the Editor and not much else.

And I think it’s safe to assume that no one circulated anything detailing some possible uses for the very substantial areas of undeveloped land involved. If such a document was in circulation it  didn’t reach me.

Among the land parcels under review were the block involved in the “People’s Park” controversy, the Col Leather Sporting Complex, the Showgrounds and virtually all unoccupied land between Dalrymple Point and Horseshoe Bay.

Before making a submission to the Study you needed to obtain a copy of the relevant maps, which was fairly easily done through the post or email. After that, however, if you wanted to make a submission you were more or less on your own. 


 © Ian Hughes 2014