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Park's last permanent residents hold tight against market plans

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Seven permanent residents stand in the way of redevelopment of a caravan and mobile home park at Alexandra Headland.

W & T Enterprises (Qld) received approval to develop a market at the Alex Beach Top Tourist Park about seven years ago but has been unable to move on all its permanent residents as necessary.

The company is seeking its fourth extension to the approval to allow for removal of permanent site agreement holders from the park.

A letter from town planning firm Project Urban to the council on behalf of W & T Enterprises recognises that its chances of terminating site agreements with the remaining owners are “low to nil”.

It says six out of seven of the remaining permanents are elderly, ill or incapacitated, and “when W & T has applied to QCAT (Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal) to terminate the site agreement of an elderly home owner who has health issues, W&T has been unsuccessful”.

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The letter indicates W & T Enterprises will try to terminate agreements through next of kin or carers when the remaining permanent residents pass away or become infirm.

“Therefore, once a homeowner in the park passes away or advises W & T they are of a level of health which requires a different level of care (outside the park), W & T will, if negotiations with beneficiaries/carers prove unsuccessful, apply to QCAT to terminate the site agreement,” it says.

The letter says that since 2018, one permanent resident has terminated voluntarily, another termination was achieved through the beneficiary of a will, and an application has been lodged with QCAT to terminate an agreement with someone else who inherited it from his mother.

It says that out of 128 sites in the park, the ratio of tourists to permanent residents in manufactured homes in the park site was once 60:40. That would mean 40-50 permanent residents have been whittled away.

An aerial view of the Alex Beach Top Tourist Park. Picture: Nearmap

It says W & T Enterprises has been negotiating termination agreements and seeking termination orders in QCAT since 2003 with a view to operating as a tourist park only.

Council records show that in 2007, the company applied for a material change of use to develop 141 units on the site.

The application was refused by the council because it would displace permanent residents and reduce the number of tourist beds available in the area.

W & T Enteprises (Qld) appealed in the Planning and Environment court and received approval in 2009 for 138 units but that approval lapsed after six years.

Residents believe the market proposal makes no financial sense to turn the park, which has a high occupancy rate, into a market.

Sunshine Coast News attempted to contact W & T Enterprises through Project Urban but had received no response at the time of publication.

A man called Brice at the tourist park, who identified himself as one of the owners, requested SCN sign in at reception when next visiting the park but did not want to comment on plans for the site, saying it was a private matter.

The majority shareholder in W & T Enterprises is Peter Hooke, of Kangaroo Point, who, with Neil Morris and former Ergon chairman Malcolm Hall-Brown, developed Raby Bay, Mackay Marina and North Harbour.

Other shareholders of W & T Enterprises are Elaine Lawson, of Margate, Brice Hooke, of Kangaroo Point, and Clare Hooke, of Samford Valley.

W & T Enterprises owns Beerwah Pines Pty Ltd, which has applied to develop a tourist park of 11 one-bedroom cabins and 18 two-bedroom cabins on Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, late last year.

According to the application, the cabins are to come from the Alexandra Headland Top Tourist Park. Public submissions on the Beerwah project can be made up until July 10.

The aerial imagery in this story is from Australian location intelligence company Nearmap. The company provides government organisations, architectural, construction and engineering firms, and other companies with easy, instant access to high-resolution aerial imagery, city-scale 3D content, artificial intelligence data sets, and geospatial tools to assist with urban planning, monitoring and development projects in Australia, New Zealand and North America.

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