Some know it as developers’ creep. As time passes, a plan grows unexpectedly, swerves in a new direction and, often, the profit increases.
The hinterland hub of Cooroy is seeing this first hand as GemLife, the giant, so-called “over-50’s lifestyle” developer, launches what amounts to a takeover of the local golf club, with ripple effects for all of Cooroy.
The land (bounded on three sides by the Cooroy Golf course) is zoned both Open Space Recreation and Rural, but instead the plan by the Gold Coast based (and Singapore backed) developer is for a high-density development of over 200 homes on tiny blocks for a retirement market that is already saturated.
A crucial vote of Cooroy Golf Club members is coming up, and it’s one that has caused a rift in the club and considerable concern in the wider community. With cash on the table, the question for members is – can they make a decision that’s good for ALL of Cooroy?
Four years ago, GemLife made an offer to the members of the Cooroy Golf Club. In exchange for 1.3 hectares of Cooroy Golf Club land, the club would receive a new clubhouse, parking lot, cart shed and a new course layout. This would ‘complement’ GemLife’s resort and would be accessible to the resort community.
The proposed land swap included a cash contribution to the club of one Ordinary golf membership per household on the “resort” estate for 10 years… Ordinary membership, according to the club constitution, provides full voting rights.
The development application was recommended for refusal by Council planners in 2021, their report citing major inconsistencies with the Noosa town plan, adverse effects of high-density residential development within the Lake Macdonald water catchment, removal of significant vegetation, detrimental impacts on traffic and amenity, and other concerns. The councillors voted unanimously to reject the application.
A month later, GemLife lodged an appeal in Brisbane’s Planning & Environment Court, which will finally be heard over six days, starting on the 26th of July. The Cooroy Area Residents Association has joined Noosa Council in defending the appeal.
Relocation of the Entry Road – February 2023
The original proposal has changed significantly since 2019 and now the interests of the club look like being considerably affected by changes announced early this year.
Amended plans reveal that the entry road to the residential development has been moved onto the club’s golf course, obliterating the club’s signature 15th hole. This highly unpopular change was introduced without consultation with the members.
Other controversial changes to the course include the conversion of a par 5 hole into two holes (one par 4 and one par 3) to be designated as new holes 1 and 2; the shortening of the course and the reduction of the par for the course from 70 to 69. Eight more holes would be modified and the numbers of all holes would be changed. And the course would be reduced to 9 holes while the modifications take place.
In response, concerned members of the Cooroy Golf Club organised a Special General Meeting to consider a motion to “cease and withdraw from all discussions and negotiations . . . with GemLife”. Their request to the committee contained the signatures of 116 concerned members.
After several presentations by the developers and renewed promises of a new clubhouse, car parking lot, a cart shed, and millions in cash in the form of membership and other contributions, a majority of members voted to continue negotiations with GemLife.
Planning & Environment Court Review
A callover review was held in May. The Judge asked that GemLife provide evidence that would assure the court that the Cooroy Golf Club members are satisfied that the recent changes are acceptable.
Another Cooroy Golf Club Special General Meeting
On June 29, the club’s Management Committee posted a second Notice of a Special General Meeting to consider the following motion.
Motion: To support the GemLife development application and to authorise the Management Committee of the Club to do all things to support the development application and development, including the following:
- granting and accepting the easement for the entry road (which would destroy the club’s signature 15th hole);
- transfer 1.76 hectares of land to facilitate the GemLife development (the construction of more houses);
- consenting and executing various existing and future easements and provide access to the club’s land to enable works to be carried out;
- and entering a formal agreement on amendments to the golf course layout, and the modification of 11 holes to accommodate the GemLife development and relocation of the entry road.
Informal group Q and A sessions with GemLife representatives will be held in advance of the Meeting.
Decision day for the club
GemLife has all its ducks in a row, except for one – the approval of a majority of members of the Cooroy Golf Club. The members now have a choice – to vote to authorise their Management Committee ‘to do all things to support the development application and development’ – or reject the proposal.
A vote to support the GemLife development will be a vote to approve:
- the change of their club’s name to GemLife Cooroy Golf Club, as indicated by GemLife at the 2019 Special General Meeting; and the name of the course to GemLife Cooroy Golf Course as shown on the most recent course layout.
- the proposed relocation of the entry road, which would destroy the club’s signature 15th hole;
- the construction of a radically changed golf course, revamped and shortened to accommodate the entry road and more housing; and
- the relocation of their clubhouse to the centre of the golf course, next to the 214-home residential estate.
But what about Cooroy?
The introduction of 400-plus new residents to our small, rural town would not be in the residents’ best interest as this unplanned growth would add to the present traffic congestion and further decrease parking availability. Our medical facilities are already stretched to the limit, and this influx of aging residents would only add to the problem. There appears to be little support for this development in the community.
This is the last and final opportunity for the members of the Cooroy Golf Club to stop this potential GemLife takeover. All concerned members should attend this Special General Meeting and vote against further support of the GemLife development.