Neighbours win appeal against high-rise

Unit owners on the Gold Coast have won an appeal against approval of a neighbouring high-rise project which would have exceeded the height limit for the area by half.

Gold Coast City Council’s decision to approve the sold-out Perspective Nexus project at 949 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach, was overturned in the Planning and Environment Court in Brisbane this month.

The council had approved a material change of use to facilitate the 43.5-metre complex on land where the Building Height Overlay Map (BHOM) allows a height of up to 29 metres.

The land adjoins Currumbin Sands Resort, which has four, three-to-four-storey apartment blocks with communal open space, and Aleia apartment building, a nine-storey block with views across nearby public parkland to Currumbin Creek and the coastline.

The body corporate and lot owners of the resort, and lot owners in the Aleia building, successfully argued that the 14-storey, 34-unit development did not meet the criteria under the council’s planning scheme which would have allowed the height uplift of up to 50 per cent.

All criteria which must be met are:


(a) a reinforced local identity and sense of place;

(b) a well-managed interface with, relationship to and impact on nearby development, including the reasonable amenity expectations of nearby residents;

(c) a varied, ordered and interesting local skyline;

(d) an excellent standard of appearance of the built form and street edge;

(e) housing choice and affordability;

(f) protection for important elements of local character or scenic amenity, including views from popular public outlooks to the city’s significant natural features;


(g) deliberate and distinct built form contrast in locations where building heights change abruptly on the Building height overlay map; and

(h) the safe, secure and efficient functioning of the Gold Coast Airport or other aeronautical facilities.

In a hearing in October and November last year, and in further written submissions in February and March this year, the appellants argued the proposal did not meet criteria (a) to (f).

In his decision on 11 August, Judge Rackemann agreed with the appellants on all criteria except (e). Judge Rackemann ordered the decision to approve the development be set aside and replaced with decision to refuse it.

“The proposed development is consistent with reasonable community expectations in relation to land use, but the bulk height and scale of the proposal is a different matter,” he stated.

He said such development “would only serve to detract from, rather than reinforce, local identity and sense of place”.


“The proposed building would have a degree of prominence by reason of this relatively high visibility and by reason of being proximate to and plainly visible from, places to which the public has resort as well as being visible at, in effect, the “gateway” of Palm Beach for vehicles travelling north on the Gold Coast Highway across the Currumbin Bridge towards the intersection of the highway and Thrower Drive,” he said.

“In short, the extra height of the building (over the height shown in the BHOM), to the extent it facilitates greater residential density, is something which causes discord, rather than accord, with what City Plan provides in relation to the appropriate residential density.”

Judge Rackemann referred to appellant concerns such as loss of privacy, and assessed the proposed remedies of landscaping and screening

“In my view, the interface with Currumbin Sands does not meet the description ‘well managed’, as it fails to significantly or sufficiently address the great difference in scale between the two developments and the consequent potential of the proposal for creating an undue sense of overbearing,” he said.

He also determined the development would “neither provide, nor contribute towards, an ordered local skyline”.

In a statement on its website, developer Sherpa Property Group said it was “incredibly disappointed” but respected the court’s decision.


It said it would develop a new design for Perspective Nexus.

“We have an absolutely incredible world-class site and we are still committed to developing it,” it said.

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