Wave of discontent on Sunshine Coast: Rival surf park developers head to court
In December, the Sunshine Coast Council ticked the first box for Surf Parks Australia’s $45 million wave pool development near the Glass House Mountains; slated to include “a wellness centre, paddock to plate food and beverage, ocean and marine protection education, learn-to-surf classes and surf coaching”.
The decision came just a few months after major infrastructure plans were lodged with the same council for another, already-approved $130 million integrated surf park attraction by Sanad Capital, including a 282m by 84m Endless Surf wave pool and resort, at Glenview, just over 20 kilometres away. That project has various council approvals dating back several years.
Sanad Capital – which claimed in a submission before the decision that there is only room for one surf park on the Sunshine Coast – is now appealing the approval of the Glass House Mountains project.
Brisbane’s HWL Ebsworth Lawyers lodged paperwork in the Planning and Environment Court in late January, claiming the newer proposal is in the wrong location and that there’s no “economic, planning or community” need for it.
The paperwork also claims Surf Parks Australia’s plans, proposed on the site of a former pineapple farm on the western side of the Bruce Highway, south of Caloundra, would result in “unacceptable impacts on surrounding sensitive land uses.”
“Disappointed”, but moving ahead
Surf Parks Australia chief executive and Sunshine Coast real estate agent Craig Morrison, who had hoped to start construction this year, said his team had the “technology, funding and experience” to deliver the project, due to feature a 315m by 92m wave pool using American Wave Machines technology.
“So it is disappointing that the appeal has been filed against the council,” he said.
“We are moving ahead with detailed design and are finalising agreements with our development and operating partners. We hope this appeal will not slow our ability to get moving on the construction of the facility,” Mr Morrison said.
In December, he called his project the “first approved pure surfing-based wave pool project in Queensland, designed to cater for all levels of surfers from beginners to advanced.”
“We strategically selected the location for this project due to its ease of access, proximity to both the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay regions as well as the added benefit of minimal disruption to our community and our local environment.
“The overall development will support the local building and construction industry as well as provide future employment for locals. It is predicted that around 60 to 100 jobs are likely to be provided both directly and indirectly as a result of the construction of this development.”
A major vision
Sanad Capital’s vision is to develop the Sunshine Coast’s “first major water park of any scale and the largest north of the famous Wet ‘n’ Wild on the Gold Coast”, including a wave pool, using Whitewater technology.
Marketing material describes a 160-key, four-star resort with accommodation ranging from 20sqm to 100sqm, with a mix of luxury eco and luxury villas, as well as an all-day trading restaurant and bar overlooking a lagoon, with sub-tropical landscaping.
Spokespeople for both Sanad Capital and Sunshine Coast Council refused to comment while the matter is before the courts.
Surf parks popping up across country
The duelling developments are part of a growing number of surf park developments across the country.
A wave-generating surf pool near the Queensland town of Yeppoon, built in 2018, remains a working prototype and sales tool for Aussie start-up Surf Lakes, generating eight surfable waves every six seconds using a massive “plunger”.
It could be open to the public by the end of the year, but the full $187 million development – tipped to become “Central Queensland’s premier outdoor recreational and active tourism hub” – won’t be complete until 2031.
Late last year, URBNSURF, the business behind Australia’s first commercial surf park URBNSURF Melbourne, began construction on a $50 million diamond-shaped surf lagoon as big as the SCG at Olympic Park in Sydney. It’s due to open early next year.
Also, “Australia’s first private resort-style surfing destination”, at Wisemans Ferry on the Hawkesbury River, is open for investment.
To be set among 18.2ha of bushland an hour from North Sydney, the Wisemans Surf Lodge – slated to be open this year – will have a 12,600sqm ocean-like, wave-generating pool, a chic hotel, restaurant, and six-hole golf course. The company behind it, Balnce is seeking investment through a unit property trust, with a minimum spend of $30,000.