EDO Qld acted for Friends of Springbrook Alliance to challenge a tourist development approved for an ecologically sensitive part of the Gold Coast Hinterland near World Heritage-listed Springbrook National Park. Although the appeal was dismissed, it led to substantial improvements in the proposed development. The case demonstrated the value of legal action as a way of improving development outcomes because of opportunities afforded to obtain information and for negotiation.
Friends of Springbrook Alliance Incorporated & Ors v Council of the City of Gold Coast & Anor  QPEC 014
EDO Qld’s clients, the Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council (GECKO), the Friends of Springbrook Alliance, and local residents Ken and Jeanette O’Shea, challenged an approval by the Gold Coast City Council in the Planning and Environment Court under the Integrated Planning Act 1997. The City Council had approved the construction of tourist cabins in a site designated under the Springbrook Structure Plan as Nature Conservation Area, which did not permit the erection of buildings or structures.
A site inspection by our clients’ expert witness found numerous rare and threatened plant species on the proposed cabin sites not identified by the developer or Council. In response, the developer moved the location of the development to an already cleared area, but still within the Nature Conservation Area. He also upgraded the wastewater system and moved the disposal area out of the rainforest.
Although Judge Newton dismissed the appeal, substantial improvements to the development were achieved, including relocation of cabins to a less sensitive area, protection of rare and threatened species, reduction in cabin size and improvement in wastewater disposal. These improvements were included as conditions to the development approved by the Court.
After the court case, the site was purchased by the State Government with the long-term aim of incorporating it into the Springbrook National Park.