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  • Writer's pictureAllan Prince

New Palm Cove Accommodation?

A MULTI-MILLION dollar eco-resort planned for Ellis Beach, which is believed will transform this protected beach in Far North Queensland, and rival Thala Beach Nature Reserve, is eagerly awaiting a Federal Government environmental approval before developers can move ahead.

The $100-million project involves eight stages, and will comprise 221 rooms and units to accommodate 530 people in hotel and motel style.

According to a spokesperson for Cairns Regional Council, a Development Application was lodged in 2012, again in 2013 and earlier this year, the developers were granted an extension pending the environment approval.

Project director, Stephen Harrison, of Harrison Development Group, who is representing the Melbourne-based Bellbird Park Developments, told Newsport that he had a “good sense” they would get Federal approval.

“This has been a long process and I would like to be at a point where we can start moving ahead,” said Harrison.

“I am confident that all the work that has been done will be supported and we can overcome the next few steps: government and council approval, and then begin the construction process and tendering.

“I cannot disclose how much has already been spent on the project, but it is considerable.”

According to a consultant’s report, Ellis Beach is the most accessible protected beach in the Cairns area, yet offers very little opportunity for tourists to stay at the beach.

“It provides a superior beach environment than Palm Cove, Trinity Beach, Clifton Beach and Holloways Beaches; and the proposed development would target the domestic market seeking to locate on a quiet protected beach within Tropical North Queensland.”

All rooms/units are sited so as to offer filtered views of the ocean though the trees and would be within 300m walking distance from the beach.

Buildings will be constructed of light building materials so as to provide a light footprint within the existing vegetation and ensure that the vegetation and ecosystem of the site remains a key distinguishing feature of the proposed eco-tourism development.

Bellbird Park Developments Pty Ltd has operated Ellis Beach Bungalows and Caravan Park and the Ellis Beach Bar and Grill for many years.

“The proposed development will be on the western side of the highway and will involve replacing the current café,” said Harrison.

According to Council documents, the existing Ellis Beach Bungalows and Caravan Park are unable to satisfy existing demand for accommodation at Ellis Beach during the peak season.

“The proposed development is likely to attract former patrons of the Ellis Beach Bungalows and Caravan Park willing to trade-up from the existing facility.

“The proposed development would create construction jobs during the development phases (it is to be staged over several years), as well as operational jobs for the local region (which presently has high unemployment rates).

“The proposed development is capable of accommodating additional tourists to the region, thereby increasing the demand for allied tourist services, such as tours, transport and retailing.”

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