Bunnings v. The People: It's just the beginning
IT'S USUALLY lowest prices but in Coolum it's a fight that's just the beginning over a proposed Bunnings Warehouse development.
Bunnings Group Ltd have lodged an appeal with the Planning and Environment Court over the Sunshine Coast Council's rejection of its original proposal for a 12,150 sq m development at one of the major entry points to Coolum Beach.
Meanwhile the retail giant has started public notification on a third development application for the site, having been knocked back twice already by the council.
Bunnings' actions have infuriated some community members including Development Watch president Lyn Saxton who told the Daily they would be joining the council as co-respondents to the appeal.
"What are they aiming for?” Ms Saxton asked.
"What's the purpose of having the third application that hasn't been decided on and going to court with the first one?”
Ms Saxton labelled the moves "pushy tactics” from Bunnings and said she did not expect the council to "give in” on the third application for a scaled-down, 5850 sq m Bunnings along with a service station (300 sq m) and restaurant (300 sq m).
She said the council's reasons for rejection of the previous proposals were not changed by the size difference of the latest incarnation.
"Council can't now turn around and approve the third one,” Ms Saxton said.
"The reasons for refusal will not have changed. The reasons for objections for us and in the council decision was not because of the size.”
She said there was a number of areas where the previous applications hadn't complied with the planning scheme.
Sunshine Coast mayor Mark Jamieson said he respected the "democratic right” Bunnings had to lodge the appeal and added it was important each application was assessed independently by the council.
He said he could also understand the community's frustrations with the process.
In one of the council officers' reports put to councillors at the June ordinary meeting, economic development staff advised the scaled-down proposal would still deliver 70 extra retail jobs and a broader economic impact of about $15 million per year.
The economic development branch was "broadly supportive” of Bunnings' claims the development wouldn't significantly impact or compromise the role of Coolum Beach.
But the strategic planning department advised the project would service a catchment far wider than the local community and would be likely to negatively impact hardware and specialty stores in the area.
Bunnings' general manager of property, Andrew Marks, said he was "very disappointed” the council had refused the application and the appeal had been lodged as a result, saying a Bunnings Warehouse in Coolum would provide a number of benefits to the community.
Mr Marks couldn't comment further on why they'd lodged the appeal as it was now before the court.
The public notification period for the latest proposal on the site will wrap up on August 25 which is the last day submissions on the proposal can be made.