Upwards of 150 people turned out to an on-site public meeting on Sunday July 30, called by Federal MP Sarah Henderson following weeks of mounting anger over the two-storey development – part of Council’s $7 million Destination Queenscliff tourism plan.
Ms Henderson urged the Borough to seriously look at putting them in another location, after revealing she was unaware of all aspects of the project before her government approved a $3.5 million grant under the National Stronger Regions Fund (NSR).
“I know there’s a lot of division in the community, some support it and many, in my calculation the majority, of the community do not support this development.
“I’ve decided to take this leadership role in standing with you in saying perhaps there is another way of doing this,” Ms Henderson said.
“I think the contentious issue about this proposal is not the cabins, it’s not the focus on tourism, it’s not the investment, it’s the location. So I have asked council whether it would consider another location.
“I do not want to see this funding lost… I think the key issue here is, is the council open to relocating the cabins.”
Mayor Tony Francis told the gathering Councillors were prepared to listen but were powerless to halt the planning process currently underway.
The search is already underway for “Australia’s leading architects to prepare final design of the cabins,” Council has revealed.
“Destination Queenscliff has a number of elements and I think the only sticking point at this stage is around the location of the cabins… all our councilors are here to listen,” Cr Francis said.
“There maybe further community consultation around location, around the eco-cabins and what that means, but as we stand now we do have funding to go through a process, to get the designs done, move it from a concept plan into a reality, designs done and then once the designs are done, to put that through a planning process.
“The council will be looking together to work through that and see if there’s a way we can make sure we get those decisions right,” he said.
The No Tourist Housing on Shortland’s Bluff community action group has collected more than 1,000 signatures on a petition opposing the cabins.
A call from group spokesman Keith Stowers to retain the site as public open space drew widespread applause from the gathering.
“People are concerned about the one issue and that the one issue is the cabins on the bluff. We’re not concerned about the Destination Queenscliff proposal as is, there’s lots of good things there. We should be incorporating the fort in our tourist activities and opportunities but all this should be done with this space kept as public open space.”