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GC locals opposed to development at Southport

Fri, Jul 12, 11:18am by Staff Writer

Gold Coast residents are largely opposed to development plans at the Southport Spit, preferring instead to converse the historically green and open space for continued public use.

The public sentiment was discovered through a newly published Griffith University research project designed specifically to gauge community preferences for the site’s development and published on the University’s website.

The project, undertaken by Griffith Business School Honours student Victoria Graham, follows the state government’s 2017 commitment to a community-led master plan to provide a guide for the Spit’s future.

The survey, which was conducted online, compiled responses from 345 residents spatially stratified by postcode across the Gold Coast.

As part of the survey, participants were asked about their preferences in terms of the focus of development (cruise ship terminal, casino, both or neither), the height of future developments (low, medium or high-rise), how much of the space should be developed, and whether current rates charges for open space preservation should be maintained or reduced.

Of the respondents, about 45 per cent of 156 individuals revealed a strong preference for not delivering any changes to the Spit and leaving it in its current condition.

Conversely, about 33 per cent were deemed to be pro-development, while 22 per cent expressed mixed preferences over the future development of the Spit, comprising the ‘middle ground’.

“The largest single group of respondents were found to be firmly against the idea of developing either a cruise ship terminal or a casino,” Miss Graham said.

“Obviously, those proposals are not uniformly opposed, particularly in the case of a cruise ship terminal, which was viewed positively by the pro-development and middle-ground segments.”

“However, there was much less community support for the construction of a casino, which was only buoyed by the pro-development sentiment.

Similarly, it is only the pro-development segment who believes the current three-storey limit should be lifted to allow for medium-rise structures.”

On the other hand, Miss Graham says, the pro-conservation segment stands alone when it comes to concern about the extent of developed space, being opposed to any increase of the existing available footprint. Neither the pro-development nor middle-ground segments held a significant preference.

Caesars withdraws from Gold Coast casino tender process

US casino giant Caesars Entertainment revealed in late June that it has pulled out of the race to develop a casino on Australia’s Gold Coast, Asgam reports.

According to reports from News Ltd, the decision was made a number of weeks ago and well before the announcement by Caesars this week that it had entered into a US$17.3 billion merger agreement with fellow US casino operator Eldorado Resorts.

Speculation has been rife in recent months as to which foreign operators might be interested in bidding for the Queensland State Government’s mooted second casino licence, however in a statement published by The Gold Coast Bulletin this week, a Caesars spokesman said, “Several weeks ago, Caesars Entertainment decided that it would not pursue a casino licence in Queensland.”

While no detail was provided by Caesars as to the reasons for its decision, Queensland Tourism Department Director-General Damien Walker said the government had been informed “this decision by Caesars was a result of internal company changes and not the attractiveness of the Gold Coast market as an investment opportunity.”

The decision also precedes comments made by Eldorado CEO Tom Reed during an investor call this week discussing the merger agreement with Caesars.

Reeg, who will take charge of the merged entity upon completion of the deal, stated “no firm decisions” had yet been made on the company’s long term international ambitions but “the opportunity internationally will have to be stupendous for us to run in that direction.”

As for the Gold Coast, it is still to be seen whether the proposed development of a second casino goes ahead at all, with no site yet confirmed and questions being asked over whether the region is big enough to host another IR under the government’s Gold Coast Global Tourism Hub ambitions.

Approval for a second casino would also likely put an end to a proposed A$2 billion “mega masterplan” by The Star Gold Coast operator, Star Entertainment Group, in addition to the A$850 million it has already spent upgrading its Gold Coast property.

The masterplan would see a total of four new hotel towers developed on top of the already under construction Dorsett Hotel and Star Residences.

Star Entertainment Group has previously expressed concerns over the government’s plans for slot machine licences should a second casino be given the green light stating the company “has a declared position that the Gold Coast is already saturated as an electronic gaming machine market.”

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