We’ve been told that Bowen’s population is going to double or even treble, over the next twenty-five years.

Where are all those people going to live?

If the town’s population doubles that means, effectively, we’re looking at “Another Bowen.” Standing on the end of the jetty and looking across the bay you’d think that there’s enough space between a fully-developed Whitsunday Shores and the mouth of the Don to fit “Another Bowen” and the sort of shopping and commercial developments that will go with it.

We’re already seeing residential developments across what was once prime farming land and, however alarming the prospect might be, within twenty-five years there will be very little farming activity on the east side of the Don.

As the people farming in this area decide to sell up and retire it’s fair to assume they’ll be offered more for the land as a residential prospect than as farmland.

So, if the population trebles, where is the “Third Bowen” going to go?

Part of it, you would think, could be crammed into the vacant spaces in “Original Bowen” and “Another Bowen” but I suspect that there’s not going to be enough space to fit another ten thousand people into low- or medium-density housing.

In other words, “Third Bowen” is where our current lifestyle runs into high-density accommodation that is probably going to be more than one or two storeys high.

Where are those buildings going to be erected?

For a start, you’d expect the prime residential estates spreading across former farmland will have made sure that homeowners are not going to have to worry about anything that’s going to tower over their pocket-handkerchief sized back yards being built next door.

If you take a glance at a current zoning map and you’ll see that there are large chunks of the older parts of Bowen and Queens Beach with red lines around them, which is a sign that they’ve been deemed suitable for higher density development. That would seem to provide more than enough room to accommodate ten thousand extra people.

There’s one slight problem with that. People living in those areas are going to have to face the possibility that they’re going to have a very substantial high-density development plonked down on the block next door.

I don’t know how many people who are currently unconcerned about that sort of development will still feel the same way when someone wants to build one in their neighbourhood.

That assumes they find out the details of any high-density development that is proposed. If you’re proposing such a development you’re required to advise the neighbours and give them an opportunity to object.

That usually takes the form of a sign on the property advising of your intention, advertisements in the paper and so on. But, once you’ve heard about some new high density development in your street and you want to check out the details how do you go about it?

Time was, you could see details of development applications on display in the front window of the Council Chambers. Nowadays development applications can be viewed inside, and an inquiry when I went in to pay the rates directed my attention to an impressive display of folders.

There’s undoubtedly a wealth of information within those folders, but finding what you’re looking for is likely to be a lengthy process.

Somehow it seems that, in the aftermath of a public outcry over a particular proposal to build a four-storey block of units in Queens Beach the reaction has been to make it harder for people who might object to any given development to find out details that they might want to object to.

In the wake of the petition that circulated over that proposed development, the organisers were told that zoning issues would be “reviewed,” but to date no details of the review have been forthcoming, so we are still faced with the possibility of having four-storey unit developments being scattered haphazardly through a predominantly low-rise townscape.

Inquiring minds may, at this point, be wondering which parts of Bowen would be seen as suitable for such development.

Simple. You could start with the marina.

We’re repeatedly told that the marina, when it eventually goes ahead, will be surrounded by seven hundred units, so you can assume that maybe two thousand people could be calling that part of town “home.”

The marina project definitely won’t happen without that sort of development, so we can anticipate considerable argy-bargy about heights but, in the long run it will go ahead with four or five-storey blocks of units.

If you consider some of the issues I’ve raised in the Bowen Commercial section of this site, it would be highly desirable that high density development be allowed in the current central business district as well.

That should come with the same restrictions that apply to the Marina development and there should be provision to allow development to the same height between the marina development and the downtown area.

To define boundaries for that sort of development you would only need to look at each block in the area around the central business district. If it contains a substantial proportion of commercial premises it goes into the “high-density” zone. If it’s predominantly residential it stays that way. Each block should be considered as a separate case and the views of the people who own residential properties canvassed.

Outside that area the general principle should be that two storeys is high enough. Where there are existing developments rising above that level around Horseshoe Bay and Rose Bay there should be a number of additional developments to the same height allowed, but the number of such developments should be strictly limited.

There may also be other areas where new high-density zones could be fitted in without a detrimental effect on neighbouring properties. Those areas should be well defined and their location should be the result of careful consideration of the sort of strategic considerations that should underpin any discussion of town planning issues.