In Cairns, the relationship between built form, city planning and landscape is expressed as Tropical Urbanism and is a defining characteristic of the Cairns identity and the Cairns City Image Study.
Over the past 20 years, the planning policy surrounding building height limits in Cairns has remained relatively unchanged. Historically the topic of building heights within Cairns has generated measurable community and political interest as Cairns has a predominantly low-rise skyline which affords spectacular views back to the mountain ranges and out to the ocean from key vantage points.
A number of development applications were proposed which would exceed the building height limits, and this prompted the need to review the Council’s long-standing policy on building height limits within the Cairns City Centre and North Cairns areas with the view to consider increased development opportunities but in a way that would allow Cairns to retain its vision as a ‘city in a rainforest’.
The Cairns City Image Study project was a collaborative planning exercise undertaken by Cairns Regional Council, Tract Consultants, Peddle Thorp, Follent, CA Architects and Total Project Group Architects. The study was a ground- breaking review of the building height limits within the Cairns City Centre and adjacent North Cairns area. The study resulted in the preparation of a contemporary vision for the built form of the City and associated planning scheme provisions to deliver this vision.
The Study won the National 2017 Planning Institute of Australia Award for Small or Local Project, the 2016 Queensland award for Best Planning Ideas and the Queensland award for Exceptional Planning Achievement.