A controversial 15-year-old plan to turn 125 hectares of council-owned bushland into a golf course and housing development was given the go-ahead yesterday, despite strident community opposition and accusations of behind the scenes deal-making. The Cannon Hill Community Links proposal would turn 81 hectares of bushland, wetland and wildlife habitat into the first publicly accessible, council-owned golf course to be built in Brisbane in 20 years. Developer BMD won the tender back in 1998 to develop 15 hectares for residential use and a small shopping village, which would enable Brisbane City Council to build the golf course at no cost to ratepayers. Long time opponents of the plan, the Minnippi Against Development group, were concerned about the impact it would have on squirrel glider and micro bat populations in the area, which was a recognised "habitat corridor" for a number of significant species. Council appointed an independent assessor, Urbis JHD, to examine the application and address community concerns about any adverse environmental impacts. In its report, which ultimately recommended the project be approved, the company said a number of conditions, including a total ban on pets in the residential area and extra size limits on the shopping village, would satisfy these concerns. It also noted the developer had committed $2 million to preserving and improving the squirrel glider habitat and had agreed to set aside nearly 28 hectares for dedicated conservation, habitat and parkland zones. MAD spokesperson Leoni Lea maintained the development had the potential to wreak havoc on the surrounding waterways and wetland systems. She said the group was disappointed but not surprised the application had been approved. "This decision has been made for an extremely long time and this project was always going to go ahead," she said. Ms Lea accused the council of using an independent assessor to hide the fact it had made a deal with a developer 10 years ago that it could not get out of. "Everybody has been very happy to have the independent assessor because it abrogates everyone of responsibility," she said. Liberal planning spokesperson Carol Cashman said Liberal councillors had not supported the initial plan but had been told that backing out of the deal would have been too expensive. "The contract deal was done by the Labor Party; to get out of that contract would have cost the ratepayers millions and we were not prepared to try to fix up Labor's failings," she said. Ms Lea said she was disappointed that Liberal councillors had backed down. "(Lord Mayor) Campbell Newman campaigned in the area on stopping the development," she said. "They still could have voted against it." Local resident and former council employee Francis Price said the planning process had worked. "The tender was awarded to deliver the project but as a condition of that it had to go through a pretty stringent series of approvals," he said. "If the independent assessors hadn't been satisfied on an economical or environmental basis it wouldn't have gone through. "So to suggest it was a fait accompli is really questioning the integrity of the people who'd done that assessment." Mr Price said he supported the project because it was a good result for the environment and the community. "The area's stood stagnant for 30 or so years since council bought it," he said. "The reality is nobody's ever going to put up the $2 million required to reforest the area and take care of its problems. "It's an area of neglected land that really needs to be managed and given a future." Council's urban planning chair David Hinchliffe said the final outcome balanced financial realities with good environmental and recreational outcomes. "Council today simply cannot afford the $15 to $20 million that it would cost to build a public golf course," he said. Ms Lea said MAD was still deciding on whether to launch a court challenge to the application. "We're looking at an appeal but we're going to be taking further legal advice on that," she said. Story originally from Brisbane News. For Further Information, visit Minnippi Against Development. To see what kind of native species are threatened by thei development visit my home page.