No one wins if project derailed

No one wins if project derailed - The Port Douglas Waterfront Series - Part 1

Published Thursday 28 January 2016

It is our firm belief that this is one of the most significant projects undertaken by the town since the late 1980s.

We believe as strongly that Port Douglas residents need to know every step of the way how the project is progressing; whether Council or The Reef Marina are making unrealistic demands; and when we can expect the relevant approvals from Douglas Shire Council.

There is no way to understate the importance of the project. If, for whatever reason, Council and The Reef Marina cannot make this happen, there will be no winners.

Understandably, projects of this magnitude have to be nuanced and there are multiple issues and players involved. But it must be resolved and it would be a travesty if it is delayed until after the Municipal Election on March 19.

Copious amounts of words have been written as well as numerous plans. It is not our intent to rehash any.

But what is important is to reiterate the vision and what it will mean for locals and tourists.

The regeneration of the Port Douglas Waterfront North precinct is a unique opportunity to create a world class and distinctively North Queensland tourist, residential and entertainment destination.

The vision is to transform the “sleepy” waterfront into a vibrant marine precinct incorporating public amenity, and providing strong connections between the marina, a working fisherman’s wharf and the town centre, while celebrating the Shire’s character and heritage that make this such a special part of the world.

And in a most recent development released this week, the vision has now moved one step closer with the lodgement of a waterfront redevelopment masterplan for consideration by Douglas Shire Council.

The masterplan establishes key features, land-uses and staging for the redevelopment of the Port Douglas waterfront. Once approved, detailed architectural designs will be submitted for Council consideration seeking approval to commence this important project.

Here are some facts.

The principle strategies to achieve the vision include: 


  • An iconic Arbour Park providing the primary pedestrian connection between the Marina and Port Douglas Town Centre;
  • A continuous Water Walk giving visitors and the community an appreciation of the water and a unique over-water experience;
  • A waterfront Public Plaza serving as an entertainment and lifestyle hub;
  • An integrated public art strategy to engage visitors and the community in the rich Port Douglas historical narrative;
  • Promoting Wharf Street as the logical “main point of arrival” as the most direct route, providing extensive water/hinterland views, and placing Port Douglas firmly on the water for the first-time visitor;
  • Create and facilitate legible and walkable connections to Macrossan Street from both Wharf and Grant Streets;
  • Open up views and links to the water;
  • Develop active street edges to reinforce key elements;
  • Encourage a range of uses within the precinct that complement existing activities in the Town Centre rather than compete for a limited market;
  • Consolidation of the commercial trawlers within a purpose built “fisherman’s wharf” with improved mooring facilities and connectivity so that berthing, provisioning and catch transfer can occur in one location (a catalyst joint project with Council); and
  • Ongoing renovation and expansion of the existing Marina to meet changing markets and increasing demand.

So where are we now?

Late last year, Council issued the following:

Douglas Shire Council has advised developers of the Port Douglas Reef Marina to include suitable provisions for the commercial fishing industry and public access to the Waterfront foreshore before lodging a Development Application.

Council received a pre-lodgement enquiry from the marina developers which outlined various aspects of the proposed multi-million-dollar redevelopment.

In response, Council provided developers with initial feedback to take into consideration before a formal Development Application is lodged. Potential issues raised by Council based on information provided in the pre-lodgement enquiry included:

  • Council will not support a Development Application that does not satisfactorily address and give certainty to the commercial fishing operations currently undertaken within the precinct. This will require agreement to be reached among all relevant stakeholders;
  • The Slipway must be retained until such time as the capacity of the existing slipway is established in the Port Douglas South Waterfront Planning Area, or as otherwise approved by Council;
  • With regard to the Waterfront walkway, Council requires implementation of the boardwalk generally as depicted in the Port Douglas Waterfront North Planning Area Code as opposed to a floating walkway; and
  • Council is opposed to any small-scale subdivisions that fragment the site into small landholdings for separate disposal.

Mayor Julia Leu said while it was heartening to see the marina developers making progress and engaging with Council in the planning process, it is vital that the marina redevelopment does not diminish the capacity of the commercial fishing industry and provides adequate public access along the foreshore, as these are elements which would need to be demonstrated before Council would consider granting a Development Application.

As part of our coverage, Newsport will be talking to the following:

  • Douglas Shire Council, the Mayor and Councillors
  • The Reef Marina
  • Commercial Fishing
  • The Douglas Chamber of Commerce and business-at-large
  • Tourism bodies, including the town’s leading resorts
  • Advance Cairns
  • State Government

We want this to happen. It’s that simple. And we want to know what you think.