Cairns service station developments: Smithfield, Clifton Beach, Bungalow, Cairns North, Manunda

Fear of electric vehicles going mainstream is not taking a grip in Cairns with applications to build six new petrol stations lodged in the past year alone.

Uptake is lower in Australia than any other developed country with tractor sales outselling electric cars two-to-one.

They made up only about 0.7 per cent of all car sales in 2020, compared to 10 per cent in the UK and Europe – but their prevalence is expected to increase drastically in the coming years.

However, Far North developers are clearly not worried.

Cairns Regional Council’s planning committee voted on Wednesday to reject a plan to build a new service station on the Captain Cook Highway at Yorkeys Knob.

The very complex reasoning distilled down to two key points – the Barron River Delta is reserved for agriculture in the planning scheme, and putting massive fuel tanks in a known flood zone is questionable.

Where one servo failed, there are plenty more to take its place – a point Division 9 councillor Brett Olds summed up.

“We’ve got so many applications coming in for service stations and bloody shopping centres,” he said.

“We’ll have more service stations and shopping centres than people out there if it keeps going like that.”

The biggest proposal of the past year is undoubtedly developer Heavey Lex Pty Ltd’s project across the road from Campus Shopping Village in Smithfield.

The plan was initially simply to build a petrol station, but plans were supercharged when the Smithfield bypass alignment made it clear traffic would be funnelled directly to the site.

The developer has now added seven new tenancies to mix including three mystery fast food outlets.

Outside of the city’s northern suburbs, cut-price petrol provider United has its eye on the former Motoco car yard on Mulgrave Rd in Bungalow, and Shell has plans for Anderson Rd in Manunda.

The last plan comes from a newcomer on the scene with convenience store giant 7-Eleven hoping to make its foray into Far North Queensland for the very first time.

However, there are at least two existing service stations that have recently taken out graveyard plots.

The old Puma in Woree is fenced off an out of operation, having wound up on a dead-end street after the realignment of the Bruce Highway.

Demolition crews have also moved in to the former Caltex on Reservoir Rd in Manoora.

They may have run into trouble this time with Cairns Regional Council officers calling for the plan to be rejected.

The planning and environment committee is due to decide on Wednesday whether to approve a service station and two fast food restaurants on current sugarcane land on the Captain Cook Highway.

Council documents show the property was previously earmarked for a heliport and attached educational establishment and caretaker’s residence – but those plans had been allowed to lapse.

It should come as no surprise to the developer, listed as Yorkeys Knob BP Pty Ltd, but planning officers are not even remotely on board.

“A written prelodgement response was provided to the applicant on about March 18, 2020 about the proposal,” a report states.

Consistently, throughout this time, the applicant has been advised that the proposal would unlikely be supported.

“Despite the previous prelodgement discussions, the applicant has lodged the development application.”

Papers before Wednesday’s meeting state the development “conflicts with the policy direction” that prohibits non-rural development within the Barron River Delta flood plain and outside the specified urban area of Yorkeys Knob.

It also states the project would represent a visual intrusion to the delta, which was “of rural character, dominated by stands of trees along the highway and rivers, sugarcane and smaller rural buildings, including agricultural sheds”.

The decision lies with councillors, who may take into consideration the fact no submissions were made against the project despite going to public consultation.

Regardless of its fate, it is just another in a rapidly growing number of new petrol stations proposed across the city.

Council development files reveal there have been six applications for brand new service stations in the past year – two directly next door to each other in Clifton Beach, and one apiece in Smithfield, Bungalow, Manunda and Cairns North.

During the same time, multiple existing applications have been approved.

Extracted from Cairns Post

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