The Spit Master Plan by Lois Levy

The campaign to protect the public open space of The Spit at the Gold Coast Broadwater has been a fierce and often divisive one for over thirty years.

The development industry has wanted to develop The Spit for a film set horizon tank, a maritime simulation, several versions of a cruise terminal and associated casino, and commercial and residential development. Each time the community has come together, led by Gecko and supported by other community groups, to persuade the politicians of the day that The Spit’s greenspaces must remain in public control and was not for private development and profit.

Gecko attended the Community Reference Group meeting at the end of May which was largely procedural, but confirmed that the majority of those groups present were opposed to the Off-Shore Cruise Terminal (OSCT) as proposed by Mayor Tom Tate and were keen to discuss other opportunities for beautifying The Spit. There are two groups, Main Beach Progress Association and Jobs for Kids which support the cruise terminal and attempt to make this a major point for discussion all the time. This is a concern for Gecko as we do not want this important initiative captured by the proposed cruise terminal.

The Minutes of this meeting and that of the Key Stakeholder Group are available on the website under Library on the lower right side of the screen.
There are two other stakeholder groups that meet separately, The Key Stakeholder Group (Business and Professionals) and the Landholders Advisory Group. There is also dialogue with the Aboriginal people associated with the Five Rivers Group.

Prior to the next meeting of all representatives on 21st and 22nd July a draft vision statement will be released and some of the background papers developed by specialists.

The Spit Master Plan – an opportunity for an exceptional greenspace

The Spit is an beautiful area in the heart of the densest population on the Gold Coast. It is a long narrow sand spit, bounded by the ocean to the west and the Broadwater to the east.

North of SeaWorld it is made up of greenspaces including Federation Walk and Doug Jennings Park, which provide a great array of recreational opportunities, visual amenity and relief from surrounding high rises. These greenspaces also provide habitat for wildlife, and Federation Walk is home to 63 species of birds in the rehabilitated native vegetation.

The marine environment of the Broadwater and Seaway has an amazing variety of marine life of about 450 species.

South of SeaWorld commercial development, limited to three storeys, is permitted and hotels, shops, marinas and other uses are found here

The Promise

Finally in late 2015, following the Queensland State election, the successful Labor Party promised to develop a Master Plan for The Spit that would protect its open spaces long into the future. As well, the Premier rejected a bid by the ASF Consortium to build a high rise casino development just south of SeaWorld on crown land.

The Master Planning process involves State Government departments, the City of Gold Coast Council, the Gold Coast Waterways Authority and the various community sectors.

The final Master Plan will be incorporated into the Gold Coast Planning Scheme.

Initial Public Consultation

The Master Plan process finally got underway in early 2018 with a series of pop-up public consultation events at various sites around Southport, which confirmed the community desire to retain this important public open space with some rehabilitation and basic recreational facilities.

In-Depth Workshops

In addition nominations were called for a series of in depth workshops over four weekends between April 2018 and early 2019. Participants included representatives of community groups like Gecko, businesses operating on The Spit and 20 members of the general public. Details of the pop-up consultations and the first weekend workshop will become available on government Have Your Say website. 

Gecko had two representatives at this first workshop and the following topics were discussed:

Recreation and Community
Maritime Function
Connectivity and Infrastructure
Superior Built Form
Business Opportunities and
Enhancing the Environment
At the end of the weekend there was largely a consensus from each of the 6 discussion groups about the direction of The Spit Master plan, with only a minority few advocating for high rise development and a cruise terminal on Philip Park.

The Next Stage

Development of technical reports from the consultants on land use planning; urban design and built form; public realm, landscape and recreation; water and land environment and ecology; economic development in the property market and tourism; transport and traffic, and culture. Parallel consultation is also taking place with Gold Coast’s Indigenous population.

In late May the Community Reference Group of selected organisations will meet to discuss in more detail the material collated to date.

From these reports and the feedback from the first workshop the Master Plan concepts will be presented at the July workshop for further discussion.