SCEC’s Planning & Development backgrounder-State election

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SCEC Election Issue- Planning & Development

The Sunshine Coast is a unique community because of the balance it has struck between preserving natural areas, for conservation, recreation and amenity, and urban areas, for residential, commercial and tourism purposes. Other communities elsewhere in Queensland (e.g. the Gold Coast or Townsville) have struck a different balance and created a different identity for themselves. Research[i] shows that this is what resident’s value most about the Sunshine Coast and that going forward, our key priority is to manage growth such that these values are preserved.

To preserve our unique character we as a community must be allowed to make decisions about how, when and where we manage growth. Our Council should be in charge of developing broad policy settings and assessing individual development projects (as indeed is their primary function under Queensland legislation). Residents and interest groups (from all sectors) should be informed about proposed changes to policy settings and significant development projects and be allowed to submit their views and have these taken into account by the decision maker.

Take home message:

Over the past three years the State has eroded Councils role as the primary decision maker for our region:

  • Council was instructed to include the Halls Creek IGA in its planning scheme in spite of its long standing position (since 2004) against future development of the area. This threatens the future health of the Pumicestone Passage, the Inter Urban Break with Moreton Bay and the character of the southern end of the Sunshine Coast.
  • Minister Seeney rezoning of the Maroochy River Caravan Park against Council’s position and without clear legal grounds (i.e. no State Interest). This threatens the current residents and the character of the area and benefits only the land holder.[ii]
  • In openly stating support for high rise development at the Yaroomba beachside by the Premier, the Council is now contemplating a significant amendment to the recently adopted planning scheme to increase height limits on the coast which, in turn,  would facilitate inappropriate development such as that proposed for Yaroomba[iii]

Over the past three years Planning Legislation in Queensland has undergone a massive overhaul significantly eroding community and environmental provisions:

  • Departments have lost their concurrence powers which have been watered down to advisory powers, concentrating all decision making power in the Minister for State Development Infrastructure and Planning
  • The Planning and Development Act Bill removes the principle of ecologically sustainable development from the act (as has already occurred with the Water Act)
  • The Planning and Development Act Bill removes crucial community consultation requirements from the Act (moving it to a regulation that can be changed by the Minister at will), such provisions include:
    • Public notification requirements
    • Third party appeal rights
    • Public access to information relating to a proposed development

For further information please contact:

Mr Wiebe ter Bals, SCEC Executive Officer: 0420 370 948