A controversial plan to build a retirement village on a privately-owned former golf course in the Moreton Bay suburb of North Lakes may have taken a step closer to reality with legal advice confirming a development application can be made.

Key points:

  • North Lakes Golf Course closed in 2018 and was bought by The Village Retirement Group
  • Moreton Bay Regional Council sought independent legal advice to clarify planning laws
  • The advice has concluded a retirement village can be developed on the site

The proposal on the former North Lakes Resort Golf Course by the Village Retirement Group sparked years of community angst, after the golf club closed in 2018 and was sold to VRG in 2019.

The retirement group plans to build a retirement village and aged care facility on part of the former golf course and turn the remainder of the site into publicly available greenspace.

But some residents strongly objected to the proposal, saying they wanted the golf course to remain in operation as part of the original vision for the master-planned suburb.

No development application has yet been lodged, but last year the Save North Lakes Golf Course community group questioned whether the proposed development was legal under the council’s own planning codes overlaying the golf course.

In a bid to end any confusion, Moreton Bay Regional Council offered to pay for independent legal advice to determine whether the retirement village could be legally developed, and whether the council could assess that development application.

Development can be lodged

The question boiled down to whether a retirement village was prohibited development under the existing Mango Hill Infrastructure Development Control Plan.

The legal advice from Christopher Hughes QC, released this week, concluded that the developer could apply to the council to vary or amend the control plan to permit the retirement village development.

A development application for the retirement village would then be assessed under both the Mango Hill Infrastructure DCP and state planning legislation. It would also be impact-assessable and subject to public consultation.

Moreton Bay Regional Council Acting Mayor Denise Sims said the council had sought the independent advice “to bring both the developer and the community group together”.

“We know that there is anxiety out there in the community. We know there is confusion for the developer about two planning instruments, and that is why council proactively sought advice,” Cr Sims said.

Community persistent

Andrew Cathcart, president of the Save North Lakes Golf Course group, told ABC Radio Brisbane the legal advice didn’t mean any development application would be automatically approved.

“We just keep fighting. We keep saying that the [proposal] is in stark contrast to the land use given. We don’t want the open space changed to residential units.”

Mr Cathcart said any development application would likely be appealed by the community group in the planning courts if approved.

The Village Retirement Group managing director Justin Harrison said he was pleased to see the legal advice confirmed he could lodge a development application for the planned retirement village.

“I think it’s great news for the North Lakes community,” he said.

Mr Harrison said the next step was to formalise plans to hand over 57 hectares of the land to the council for public parkland, and he would be meeting councillors and council officers to discuss that process.

“To turn that into a park for the community… that is really by far the first step in this project,” he said.

Legal advice released on possibility of retirement village on former North Lakes Golf Course
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