Future of GJ Walter Park defines Toondah debate

“Withdraw the plan, start again” was the chant from protesters on Sunday morning at the GJ Walter Park off-leash dog area.

Around 300 people, some who brought their dogs wearing placards, came together to voice their opposition to what they said were plans to carve up the park, which runs on the foreshore below the Grand View Hotel at Cleveland.

The protest was held the day before submissions closed on the state government’s Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area proposed scheme.

Steve MacDonald, a spokesperson for the group of residents,  said the plan would alienate most of the park and would destroy the amenity and quality of life of residents living in neighbouring existing properties and the cherished ‘‘village’’ atmosphere of Cleveland and surrounds.

The claims have been rejected by Redland City Council mayor Karen Williams, who said the park would not be lost to the city and the people.

Cr Williams said the proposed development scheme stated that any development applications would need to allow for “an appropriately sized recreation and open space area in GJ Walter Park providing formal and informal recreational activities and a dog park".

At Sunday’s meeting Steve MacDonald said the state government and Redland City Council had completely ignored the findings of community consultation undertaken in August last year.

Mr MacDonald said the plan should be withdrawn and started again and the government and council “stop  stick-fetching for developers and start protecting the interests of the community”.

Cr Williams said other concerns associated with the development scheme, such as building heights, would be considered when council made its recommendations to the State Government on the proposed development scheme.

The state government’s Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area proposed scheme broadly outlines the type of developments possible in the area around the Toondah Harbour ferry terminals.

An 800-boat marina, a public beach, a waterfront promenade with restaurants, cafes, shops and offices and buildings up to 15 storeys high are part of the vision for area.

One of the elements in the draft proposal is a suggestion of a marina in front of GJ Walter Park with the dredging spoil being used to reclaim land to form a massive breakwater-development area out into the bay.

The plan would transform the area into a mix of residential, retail, commercial and community services with a waterfront promenade connecting the ferry terminals to the GJ Walter Park.

The proposal would allow buildings up to 15 storeys on the foreshore an up to seven storeys on the reclaimed land.

The Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area Proposed Development Scheme gives the State Government full control of the redevelopment of the area, which includes the area between the North Stradbroke Island ferry terminals to GJ Walter Park, below the Grand View Hotel.

The 67 ha area includes 17.5 ha over land and 49.5 ha over water.

The PDA scheme for Toondah sets out a plan for development in the area and divides the area into four precincts – a mixed use village between the existing ferry terminals and GJ Walter Park; a residential precinct behind the park; a revamped ferry precinct; and a marina precinct in front of GJ Walter Park, with the spoil from the dredging for a marina to be used to reclaim land into the for use as future residential development.

The PDA development scheme lays down the types of proposed developments allowed and where they will be. It will be up to private investors and developers to build the facilities.  The advantage for the developers is that the red tape in approval process will be slashed if a proposed development fits in with the PDA plans.

Protesters gather with their placards at GJ Walter park, Cleveland on Sunday morning

Protesters gather with their placards at GJ Walter park, Cleveland on Sunday morning

Slogans used at the protest. GJ Walter Park has a popular off-leash dog park

Slogans used at the protest. GJ Walter Park has a popular off-leash dog park

Protesters gather with their placards at GJ Walter park, Cleveland on Sunday morning.

Protesters gather with their placards at GJ Walter park, Cleveland on Sunday morning.

Protesters signed petitions to have the Toondah plan withdrawn.

Protesters signed petitions to have the Toondah plan withdrawn.

Steve MacDonald addresses the rally.

Steve MacDonald addresses the rally.

Esme Whitby was one of the the organisers of 12,000 signature petition in 1988 against a canal estate off Toondah Harbour.

Esme Whitby was one of the the organisers of 12,000 signature petition in 1988 against a canal estate off Toondah Harbour.