Fairmont resort gets thumbs down from planners


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Artists impression of the proposed $300 million luxury resort development Accor Fairmont Port Douglas. Image: Supplied by Chiodo Corp.
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The proposed Chiodo Corp. development of the $300 million luxury resort, Accor Fairmont Port Douglas, could end up in the Planning and Environment Court after it was revealed today that Douglas Shire Council environment and planners will be recommending councillors vote to refuse this project at the next open Council meeting on 27 July.

An e-mail – of which Newsport has a copy – to the developer, from a staff member of the Environment and Planning team, said: “Unfortunately staff will be required to recommend refusal for the Fairmont project as discussed. Ultimately the scale of the project does not comply with a significant number of performance outcomes and overall outcomes from the relevant codes.”

It added that the proposal does not comply, or nearly comply with the height, scale and bulk requirements reflected in the Strategic Framework, Tourist Accommodation Zone Code and Landscape Values Overlay Code, adding the significant on-site car parking short fall is not supportable by officers.

When Newsport approached Council earlier today to obtain an update of this project from the planners, a spokeswoman said: “I spoke with our planning team. The Development Application for the Fairmont Resort project continues to be reviewed as part of the normal legislative process. An update is expected at the next Council meeting on July 27 where it’s intended the project will be included as an agenda item.”

The proposed 253-room resort is regarded among the biggest development in Port Douglas since Christopher Skase made his presence felt in the 1980s and is being developed on the old Havana project – situated between Oaks Hotels and Resorts and the Mirage Country Club.

Developer Paul Chiodo said he was devastated when he received the e-mail while Accor, the largest hotel operator in the Pacific, said they were deeply disappointed with this news.

“I am equally shocked. We have followed due process, we felt there was a partnership with Council and I am surprised they did not speak to us before sending the e-mail and work something out,” he said.

“I have to hope that the Councillors see the economic benefits. I have to think they’d be crazy to knock this back.

“I will also take this matter to the Planning and Environment Court and also reach out to the State Government to garner their support,” said Chiodo.

Chiodo said he had expected more of Council.

“This is not an ideal way to communicate and as I said, I am devastated. We have already spent $15m, which includes $4.5m on the design.

“I don’t understand why we cannot sit down with Council and discuss their concerns, but there is clearly no opportunity to do so.”

Draft report

Chiodo said they were initially advised they would receive a draft report. They were also waiting on Council’s list of concerns. Neither materialised.

The Council e-mail also highlighted lack of an actual street frontage elevation plan and the changes made between the application plans and the RFI response plans.

“It would be beneficial for our assessment if you could obtain a street frontage elevation and a table of changes from original DA plans RFI response plans. However, this is not something that would affect the overall recommendation,” it said.

Chiodo did address the issue of the shortage of affordable staff accommodation and said if everything did get approval, and the resort opened in 2023/4, out-of-town staff would be catered to.

“We will be shuttling in staff from numerous locations and therefore do not see this as a concern,” he said.

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