IS this Clive Palmer's vision of a better Sunshine Coast?
Concept plans for the billionaire's beachfront redevelopment of his Coolum resort have been leaked to the Daily and appear certain to raise a storm of protest.
The designs, put together by a team of international consultants, feature a 20-storey "sky needle", a giant ferris wheel similar to the London Eye and a monorail linking the complex with the Sunshine Coast Airport.
But most confronting for local residents at Yaroomba is the fact they also show two large hotel buildings sitting on top of the environmentally sensitive sand dunes, complete with a shopping precinct, giant waterfall and what appears to be a wildlife park.
The leak of the drawings comes just two weeks after one of Mr Palmer's senior staff confirmed the mining magnate planned to spend up to $4 billion to create an international hotel, casino and tourism destination on par with world-class facilities in Dubai.
Just days later, Mr Palmer told a media conference he had no such plans.
Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson, who had a private viewing of the drawings on Thursday along with other councillors and several local MPs, said be believed Mr Palmer was serious about his plans.
"I think he's very serious about this," Cr Jamieson said.
"I welcome his enthusiasm for the region, but it's a lot of conceptual ideas at present and needs a lot of work and consultation."
Cr Jamieson refused to comment on the suitability of the proposal plan for the Yaroomba area.
"Until something concrete is presented to council ... it would be presumptuous of me to give an opinion," he said.
The Daily took the drawings to the streets of Yaroomba yesterday and found residents were not so reluctant to voice an opinion.
"He's not planning on doing that, is he?" a shocked Andrew Williscroft asked.
"I wouldn't like to see anything like this here.
"No one around here would support that, I would think."
Dean Smith said he was not against Mr Palmer's planned casino if it was done the right way.
"These drawings are not in the concept of the region," Mr Smith said. "It looks a lot like the Gold Coast."
Kyle Holden said Mr Palmer was "dreaming".
"It wouldn't fit in with the area," she said. "Most of us here are up for the redevelopment but it has to be sympathetic to the area."
Another Warragah Pde couple, who did not want to be named, said Mr Palmer could expect strong community backlash if he tried to bring the concept images to reality.
"We will have to wait and see what goes before council for approval," they said.
The concept drawings show the development sitting on top of the "parabolic dune" which was at the centre of a battle between residents and the former Maroochy council when it approved a Lend Lease plan to build a 1.5km long, 3m-wide bikeway along the shoreline.
Residents won that battle after a long and bitter fight.
Leigh Warneminde, president of Coolum Coast Care which works to protect the Yaroomba stretch of coastline, didn't want to get into a fight with Mr Palmer just yet, but pointed out there was a high concentration of loggerhead turtles nesting along the beach.
"Last season we had 19 nests, so lighting along there would be a major problem," she said.
"A lot of the development looks like it would be on public land - the dunal reserve - and I can't see how that could possibly be allowed to happen.
"I think he's just fishing.
"Yaroomba is a quiet little unassuming, close-knit community. We certainly never dreamt we would have Dubai on our doorstep."
When news of the concept designs broke late Friday, Coolum Palmer Resort manager Bill Schoch would not confirm what they portrayed but stressed the images were not plans.
"Mr Palmer is putting a dream list of what could happen to make a world-class attraction," he said.
Monorail from airport
Hovercraft port to link Brisbane
Sky needle with elevator to the top
Giant ferris wheel
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