FLASHBACK: Shirley and Lawrie Ballinger from Townsville with their dog Rosie at the Kershaw Gardens enjoy free camping days in 2014.
FLASHBACK: Shirley and Lawrie Ballinger from Townsville with their dog Rosie at the Kershaw Gardens enjoy free camping days in 2014. Allan Reinikka ROK050814acampers

Kershaw Gardens camper van battle re-ignites

ROCKHAMPTON Regional Council is looking to introduce short-term rest stops for camper vans at the Kershaw Gardens precinct after losing a court battle late last year.

Under a new council proposal, stays at the precinct would be allowed, but limited to 48 hours, and no more than 35 self-contained recreational vehicles would be permitted there at a time.

The proposal will have to be approved at ministerial level and yesterday it met with strong opposition from the Caravan Parks Association of Queensland who accused the council of "moving the goal posts to suit its own needs."

CPAQ general manager Michelle Weston described the council's actions as "highly disappointing".

"Council continues to seek to develop rules that are not in keeping with the Planning and Environment Court's decision in November that found the use of Kershaw Gardens for RV accommodation was unlawful under the Planning Act," she said.

Camping at the Kershaw Gardens precinct was stopped in February after the CPAQ won court proceedings against the council.

A sign erected by the council at the entrance to the precinct now communicates this to visitors.

It reads: "The Caravan Park Association of Queensland took Rockhampton Regional Council to court. They were successful in stopping us from offering this free service to our valued overnight guests. This means that Camper Vans, Caravans and RV's will not be allowed to use Kershaw Gardens for overnight camping as of 15 February 2019. We want you to know that Council fought hard to allow overnight camping and are very disappointed with this result."

For years Kershaw Gardens had attracted travellers but also provoked the ire of some caravan park owners who complained of losing business.

The Caravan Parks Association successfully argued the camping area was set up in breach of the council's planning scheme.

Now, having gone back to the drawing board, the council believes its proposed Kershaw Gardens precinct allows for specific "tourist park" use to further encourage tourism.

But under the new proposal, there would be further restrictions.

"Any potential tourist park within the Kershaw Gardens precinct excludes any cabins, tents or similar structures and does not allow for any ancillary activities," council documents say.

The council believes its proposal provides for a "unique convenience type service" that offers not only a short-term rest area, but may also encourage longer-stay visitors.

After being informed yesterday of the council's new proposal, Ms Weston said the CPAQ would not be giving up in its fight to secure a "level playing field" for both the residents of Rockhampton and its association members.

"We have written to the Minister and have made it clear that we will not be backing down," she said.

"There is no equality in council's proposal and it is very clear that the suggested amendments continue to look for the re-introduction of a non-commercial caravan park into Kershaw Gardens, despite the court ruling that to do so would be unlawful.

"It has been proven that high quality commercial caravan parks not only encourage visitors to stay in the region in excess of 48 hours, but as a result in turn have a significant, positive impact on the region's economy.

"This revised council proposal will in contrast have an overall negative economic impact upon the Rockhampton region, beyond our members who will in turn be unfairly impacted due to the inconsistency with State Planning and Queensland Caravan Park policy."

Ms Weston said the CPAQ would continue to keep a close eye on developments and would remain very active and vocal in its determination to ensure fair play for all.

Rockhampton Regional Council yesterday chose not to respond to CPAQ comments.

READ: Rocky Council forced to pay costs for Kershaw RV legal case

READ: Please don't boycott Rocky pleads tourist company

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