The development application for $600-million, 44-storey twin tower project, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects on the Gold Coast, has been formally withdrawn by developer Sunland after they were only deferred for a year.

The project was to be located on Sea World Drive in a waterfront area which is mostly crown land called The Spit.

The proposal withdrawal happened after the Gold Coast City Council resolved to delay a decision on the development application for up to a year, pending a masterplan for The Spit which the City council wants to develop in partnership with the Queensland state government. The twin tower development proposal was one of the last projects designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid, who died suddenly in March 2016. It would have included 370 apartments, a boutique hotel with 69 suites, an art gallery, museum, outdoor sculpture gardens and an underground aquarium.

Sunland chairman Soheil Abedian expressed, in a statement, his support for the project’s masterplan. “We feel it is important the masterplanning process is unencumbered, without any perceived time pressures from existing development applications,” He said, adding, “For this reason we are withdrawing our development application for The Mariner until such time that a masterplan for the precinct can be agreed upon.”

Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

The report submitted by The Gold Coast City Council planning officers has criticized Zaha Hadid’s development. The 44-storey twin towers were proposed for a site which currently has a three-storey height limit regulations resulting in the council’s refusal for the proposal.

“A review of the proposed development against the City Plan confirms that the proposed development will result in a significant level of conflict with the Strategic Framework of the City Plan,” the officers’ report said. “The conflict relates to the building height, scale and intensity of the development and its ability to maintain the low rise character of The Spit.”

The proposal received a total of 121 submissions and two separate petitions containing a total of 4,258 signatures as mentioned in the officers’ reports: “The majority of the submissions received, including the petitions, objected to the proposed development, while five submissions received supported the development.”

“This gives the council and the state government the opportunity to move forward in this process without this application hanging around in the background potentially coloring what the outcome may have been,” said Cameron Caldwell, chair of Gold Coast City Council’s planning committee.

He also described the decision to withdraw the application as “gesture of goodwill., adding: “Council identified clearly that there are certain challenges around traffic and movement of people around The Spit as well as maintaining open green space for the city.”

Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Sunland chairman Soleil Abedian said, “It is our ardent hope that the state government and council, upon completion of the masterplan, allow projects such as The Mariner to have a place in the future of our city.”

While the Queensland state government owns a five-hectare parcel of land, intended for the casino resort, which its masterplan was designed by Cox Rayner (now Cox Architecture), southern the Sea World, it has not yet committed to taking part in Gold Coast City Council’s masterplanning process for The Spit. Cox Rayner’s casino resort, to be developed by ASF Consortium, would be located a few hundred meters from Sunland’s development. ASF Consortium had previously proposed a casino resort with a cruise ship terminal for Wave Break Island, north of The Spit, but the proposal was put back by the state government due to environmental concerns.

“It would be extremely disappointing if the state government didn’t take this opportunity to work with council,” Caldwell said. “We’ve seen that the state has significant interests in this location, particularly around the ASF proposal and we would urge them to work with us closely so that we can make sure we map out what the best future is for this part of the Gold Coast,” he continued.

“Ideally we need to see a plan that recognizes the opportunities that we see there, whether that be with respect to the ASF development, a cruise ship terminal or other development opportunities as well as protecting and recognizing the recreational values of The Spit,” he added.

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