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Tycoon could scrap $30m Coast resort due to council dispute

ECO: An artist’s impression of a home at Peter Chen’s lifestyle resort at River Heads.
ECO: An artist’s impression of a home at Peter Chen’s lifestyle resort at River Heads. Contributed

AN INTERNATIONAL property tycoon is threatening to scrap his $30 million eco-resort after a dispute about $6000 in council fees.

G8 Consultants chairman Peter Chen has lodged a development application to build an 80-lodge eco-lifestyle resort on Wilkins Rd in River Heads.

The futuristic development is planned to include computerised veggie gardens in each home, a modern layout as well as restaurants and cafes.

The purchase and settlement of 31-hectare site hinges on the Fraser Coast Regional Council approving Mr Chen's development application.

But a dispute has now erupted about the development fees, with Mr Chen struggling to understand what the council requires him to pay.

"Every time they ask me to pay the figures change - there's so many bloody calculations I'm at a loss," he said.

Developers are required to pay a fee when lodging an application before the council's officers start any assessment.

The base fee is $109,000.

Fraser Coast Regional Council chief executive officer Lisa Desmond said the council applied a 40% discount for Mr Chen, bringing the cost of lodging the whole application down to about $65,000

"He still didn't want to pay that up front so we said, well, how about you do a preliminary approval and do stage one first," she said.

The council is asking for a total of $23,000 to be paid.

Mr Chen has already paid $14,000 and says he will only pay a maximum of $17,000.

"That's not how it works," Ms Desmond said.

"We have given him that advice and said you now need to pay the difference so that we can start assessing the application.

"It's a significant discount already and it would be interesting why $23,000 for a $30 million development is 0.007%."

Mr Chen is refusing to budge over the $6000 difference, warning the council to sort the situation out.

"If they don't wake up by next week I pull the pin," he said.

"I have instructed Rod Cullen (his representative) to withdraw our DA (development application) if the matter cannot be sensibly resolved.

"We have lost two months already.

"When you ask them for support (there is) no bloody action."

Planning documents were lodged with the council on December 23 last year.

Ms Desmond said the fees helped cover the $2 million cost of having a development assessment team at the council.

She said officers would reiterate their quote to Mr Chen.

Mr Chen has been building innovative homes and resorts for more than 40 years.

Mr Chen said the River Heads' project would be a mixed-use lifestyle village resort, open to anyone to live in.

"It's not a retirement village where everyone is waiting for coffins to be delivered."

THE SITUATION

Peter Chen will pay a $17,000 application fee

The council wants him to pay $23,000

He will not budge, threatening to pull the pin on his proposed $30 million resort

Topics:  developer eco-resort fraser coast regional council



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