10 May 2023

Lakeland locals call for a bypass at town meeting

| Sarah Martin
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A HIGHWAY bypass and moving the town centre were among suggestions raised at a town planning meeting at Lakeland last week.

The meeting, organised by Cook Shire Council and facilitated by AEC Group senior economist Jonathan Pavetto, was part of a community consultation in preparation for a new Lakeland town plan.

Cook Shire deputy mayor Robyn Holmes said the most consistent feedback was the need to create a bypass for the Mulligan Highway, which currently runs through the small town.

“Council is about to do a new town plan for Lakeland, taking into consideration the community’s aspirations and the expected growth of up to 2500 people over the next few years,” Cr Holmes said.

“The new town plan is needed due to the recent growth in on-farm worker accommodation and the expected growth around the proposed wind farm and irrigation scheme.”

Lakeland Progress Association chair Gary McClelland said the meeting was about thinking well into the future to ensure development was suited to the town.

“If Lakeland is going to be a big town, we want to preserve the small country town lifestyle, but at the same time acknowledge that development is going to take place, and how we can do that best,” he said.

The long-time local said moving the highway east of its current alignment through the town’s centre was a popular suggestion.

“We don’t want to see it become a town like Mareeba with the highway running through the middle, so we looked at different options,” Mr McClelland said.

“We also talked about whether Lakeland should be centralised or have ribbon development along the Peninsula Developmental Road to Laura.”

Mr McClelland said the meeting discussed the first stage of development to include infrastructure to cater for the current growth, and the future stage to cater for growth caused by the completion of the irrigation scheme.

About 20 Lakeland residents attended the meeting, along with Cr Holmes and fellow councillors Peter Burns, Ross Logan and Marilyn Morris.

New Cook Shire CEO Brian Joiner and director Lawrence Booth also attended.

Cr Holmes said Mr Pavetto had collated the community’s suggestions around what services were needed to support the town’s growth, as well as where new services and other growth should be placed and would provide a report to the council.

“In addition to the feedback being taken into consideration in the new Lakeland town plan, Mr Pavetto will use the information to create an advocacy document which council can use for future planning and funding applications,” the deputy mayor said.

The Lakeland Wind Farm is an approved project in its final stages of development and is expected to provide clean energy for more than 50,000 households from 35 wind turbines.

The final business case for the Lakeland Irrigation Area Scheme is due this year, with the proposal for a 100,000 megalitre dam on the Palmer River, boosting the irrigable area at Lakeland by more than 17,000 hectares.

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