WE MUST DEFEND OUR LINE IN THE SAND
The Noosa Shire we love stands in defiance of the urban sprawl and high rise that many Queenslanders call ‘the coast’.
Over the decades, community groups like ours have fought doggedly to draw a line in the sand, a line that protects our lifestyle and our environment.
It’s also a line that makes us special. And that is what brings new residents and tourist dollars here and drives our economy.
We made a conscious decision not to be the Gold Coast, and we do not apologise for that.
What we now demand from the candidates in our approaching Council election is that they defend that line with us.
We are wary of candidates who support vested interests over those of our community, and candidates who do not have a record of putting community before inappropriate development.
Between 96 and 98% of development applications are approved, but Noosa council has been prepared to refuse those that do not comply with the Plan and then to go to Court to uphold the refusal.
Peregian Beach, Marcus Beach and all of Noosa Shire needs Councillors who will continue to support the Noosa Plan.
It is only a small number of developers who will not work within the Noosa Plan, and cause the community and Council excessive costs and anxiety.
In preparing Town Plans, all local councils are required to go through a similar community consultation process before gaining State government approval for their Plan.
Sunshine Coast Council (SCC) is a good example of what Noosa residents do not want as their Councillors are more likely to approve developments contrary to the Town Plan.
In the infamous and ongoing Sekisui case, SCC gave an approval which was clearly contrary to the views of their community.
Development Watch, another non-profit voluntary community organisation like PBCA, was forced to challenge the SCC decision in the Planning and Environment Court at a cost of $440,000 to date.
However, SCC did not merely allow Sekisui to defend the appeal. The Council spent an unknown amount of ratepayers funds in supporting the controversial approval against the wishes of its own community.
In Noosa Shire, by comparison, the Council refused the Thomco (Scanlon) development behind the Peregian Beach IGA because of significant non-compliance with the Noosa Plan, and was then required to spend some $900,000 on defending an appeal in the Court. PBCA spent an additional $40,000, raised by determined local residents, successfully standing with Council to support the Plan.
In the heart of Coolum, with the Stage 2 of the Element - now 'Allura' development - SC Councillors removed a requirement for 24 visitor carparks which was subsequently reduced to just a handful for visitors (or residents with extra cars) on the development of 49 residences.
This change was despite the Town Plan not catering for the impact of on-street car parking in the surrounding streets.
As well, most townhouse residents will be reversing out of their small driveway directly onto the busy surrounding roads, a recipe for congestion.
Businesses and the Coolum community are now aware that pro-development decisions can have unwelcome consequences.
Councillors approving developments which do not comply with Town Plans make them more difficult to appeal and place extreme financial burdens on the local community left to defend itself.
This is why it matters to every one of us whether candidates support the Noosa Plan, oppose inappropriate development and do not have hidden agendas for vested interests.