The approval of a development application for a recreational vehicle (RV) park in George Town has been met with anger by caravan park managers.
Low Head Tourist Park manager Sarah Hickling said she was disappointed by George Town Council’s decision on Wednesday night to approve the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia’s 50-lot plan.
However George Town mayor Bridget Archer said council in its capacity as a planning authority could not consider the commercial interests of other businesses.
She empathised with the concerns of Low Head Tourist Park and East Beach Tourist Park, but said the CMCA’s proposal was focused on a niche market of users with specific requirements.
The CMCA submitted the application for a 50-lot site on a hectare block beside the George Town Visitors Centre, restricted to use of the club’s members for $3 per night, and staffed by volunteers.
“We believe that we’ve got a great opportunity here to tap into a market which is not met by the commercial sector, and I say that with sincerity: this market does not affect caravan parks,” CMCA chief executive Richard Barwick said in March.
However East beach Tourist Park manager Theresa Plumstead said the town “could not support three caravan parks”, and she had serious concerns about the impact of the proposed park on the town’s economic health.
She also said her park saw many RV owners stay at a cost of $10 per night.
Mrs Hickling said there had been no effort from council to meet with George Town caravan park owners before the application was voted on.
“We are a rate-paying family-run business that employs local staff, and [council] is prioritising the needs of a mainland-based organisation that have no links to George Town,” she said.
Council received 13 submissions to the application when advertised: five objected and eight supported it.
Mayor Archer said no questions were raised during public question time. There is a 14-day window for appeals to the planning tribunal.