‘Appalling’: Photos reveal mass tree clearing for development
A DEVELOPER has been accused of felling hundreds of trees on a prime hinterland site despite plans to use only a fraction of the land.
Residents and a city councillor are furious that Business Property Brokers cleared 4.2ha of "mature vegetation" ahead of a "small" expansion of the Nerang Town Centre on Gilston Rd.
However, a representative for the developer hit back saying the land was privately owned, the clearance of bushland had been approved by the Gold Coast City Council, it would stop bushfires, and it would stop vagrants living in the area.
Councillor Peter Young suggested instead that a fence should have been built to keep out the latter.
The Bulletin obtained photographs showing how bulldozers cleared a huge tract of bushland behind the My Centre just west of the Nerang River.
In January, Cr Young detailed the destruction on his Facebook page, providing video that prompted almost 180 comments from concerned locals.
The video exposed not just the tree clearing but an intense battle between the developer and the area councillor on arguably one of the largest and most important parcels of land in the Gold Coast hinterland township's CBD.
The Bulletin understands the developer had approval to clear the 4.2ha site and build on 47 per cent of it. It was to include a K-mart store. However, the full town centre development will not occur at this stage, and residents and Cr Young are upset about so much bushland being cleared for a smaller retail extension.
Sources believe the cleared land will enable a housing development on site.
Council officers had restricted clearing to an area agreed to under a development approval signed off on November 18, Cr Young said. But the latest announcement is only the first stage and a small section compared to the overall project, which would have included public pathways, wet play area for children and restaurant precinct.
"The tree-clearing permit was to cover the area of the developer's previous approval," Cr Young said.
"They are not going ahead with that. They are only going ahead with a tiny little portion.
"I'm not really welcoming what the developer is doing because it's just a bit of an expansion. It's just another supermarket. How many supermarkets can you have in a town?"
The developer had sought to have control over the river area but council wanted it dedicated to the public, Cr Young said.
"The developer took us to court about it. In the end they pulled out. We wanted it in council's hands so we could control its use. It was clear the developer wanted to clear it a bit for selective kind of views."
A Business Property Brokers representative said: "From (the developer's) perspective, first and foremost the land is privately owned.
"Council issues the development permit and (the land clearing) has been done with council approval.
"There's been significant interest in the community for people encouraged by the clearing in terms of opportunity for the land.
"There was significant bushfire risks, there were vagrants living on the land, and illegal dumping. From a public safety perspective as well, there's far more visibility into the site so it feels safer."
He added there had been a "fair bit of interest" from prospective businesses and "we're studying options to develop the land".
Residents have also been left outraged by the photos, taking to social media to share their concerns.
Christine Mciver-Morris wrote: "It is appalling. I know of another shopping centre where $100k bond per tree were put on standing trees.
"The developer just knocked them down and paid the price and that short-term-for-profit mentality is going to destroy the Gold Coast and Australia."
Originally published as 'Appalling': Photos reveal mass tree clearing for development