Caravanning Queensland has won a legal battle in the Planning and Environment Court against Rockhampton Regional Council to have the free camping area in Kershaw Gardens closed down. In its statment, Caravan Queensland has said –
“In late 2017 Caravan Parks Association of Queensland (Caravanning Queensland) commenced proceedings against Rockhampton Regional Council on the basis that the use of an area known as Kershaw Gardens at Moores Creek Road, Park Avenue, Rockhampton, for free camping was unlawful and constituted a development offence under the Planning Act 2016 (Qld) due to the absence of an effective development permit for the use.
The Court determined the use of this land for RV accommodation was not ancillary to the use of the land as a park. The Court also found the use was not lawful under either Rockhampton Regional Council’s 2005 Planning Scheme (where RV accommodation was classified as an ‘undefined’ use) or the 2015 Planning Scheme (where the use was defined as a ‘Tourist Park’).
In accordance with these findings, the Court held an ongoing development offence was being committed and made enforcement orders to bring the identified development offence to an end. The Rockhampton Regional Council now has until 4pm on February 15, 2019, to stop illegal camping and RV accommodation in Kershaw Gardens.
Michelle Weston, Caravanning Queensland General Manager of Parks, said the Association is pleased with the Court’s decision, which has provided certainty to our members in the Rockhampton region.
“The Association was always of the view that the accommodation use of Kershaw Gardens went beyond the ordinary use of a park,” Ms Weston said.
“We originally raised our concerns about the free camping at Kershaw Gardens with Council in July 2014 regarding the unlawful use and the impacts on the competitiveness of a number of local caravan park operators.
“The fact that the accommodation offered was provided free of charge was detrimentally impacting the business of our members, in light of the continuation of this unlawful development and in the interest of our members, including local caravan park operators, we were left with little alternative but to take legal action.”
The Court have ordered Council to remove signage from the Land identifying that it may be used for the purposes of RV accommodation, write to the CMCA to advise that use of this land for RV accommodation has ceased and place public notices to that effect.”
The Australian Caravan Club has hit right back, condemming the change, saying that free camping provides an important and measurable economic benefit to regional communities, and that Queensland risks being percieved as caravan and RV-unfriendly, in light of the news. Chairman, Chris Humphries said, “Interstate tourists avoiding the southern winter, traditionally travel throughout regional and rural Queensland which could be the regions most affected directly by restrictive camping issues. Many southern grey nomads may wipe Queensland off their winter destinations and will stop at the border or head to SA and up the Centre. Qld communities will lose the economic benefits their tourism brings as they head north each winter. The ACC absolutely respects the decision of the Court but our call is to ensure that RV travellers have a freedom of choice in options available to stay in Queensland destinations.”
The club estimates that on any given night 120,000 caravan or motorhomes are out travelling each day, contributing, on average, $100 per day into the communities they visit. “The Australian Caravan Club calls on the Queensland Government to convene a round table of stakeholders including the relevant RV consumer organisations to work collaboratively to ensure appropriate strategies are developed for regional and rural areas continue to attract RV travellers who may now bypass these areas as a result of the Kershaw Gardens decision” said Mr Humphrey.
What do you think about this decision? Will it make you consider avoiding Rockhampton if you travel north?
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