The fate of the controversial Aria development
The fate of the controversial Aria development "Breeze” will be decided at Thursday's Sunshine Coast Council general meeting. John McCutcheon

Community group demands firm stand on Breeze

THE Spit Protection Association at Mooloolaba has urged Sunshine Coast Council to hold the developer of Breeze Apartments on the Esplanade accountable for complying with the conditions of its Development Approval.

The association contends the community was entitled to assurance developments approved by the council were built in accordance with those approvals.

Sunshine Coast Council will on Thursday consider an application by developer Aria for a "permissible change of use" to retrospectively approve changes to the Breeze project during construction.

Aria head Michael Hurley said this week the company had relied on advice from its town planner the changes were generally in accordance with the approval.

The council's planning department, after consulting an independent architectural assessment of the built project against its development approval, has recommended councillors approve some, but not all changes.

Planning portfolio head Cr Christian Dickson has called for a tougher stance rejecting every change made to the original approval that had already allowed numerous concessions deviating from the planning scheme.

Spit Protection Association president Anna Neep said on Tuesday what was at stake was an issue of trust and confidence in the relationship between the community and the council.

"Retrospective approvals undermine the integrity of the planning process, and in turn, Town Plans,'' Ms Neep said.

"Retrospective approvals that defeat the design outcomes on which relaxations to development constraints have already been granted (as in the case of Breeze), undermine the planning principles still further.

"A planning scheme that lacks credibility is permission for developers to build a neighbourhood to best serve their interests - and not one that reflects a community's interest.

"As we have previously stated, if Council gives ARIA retrospective approval on the Breeze site, a precedent is set for all future developments at Mooloolaba."

Ms Neep said to do so would effectively confirm to developers that they were able to flout rules to their advantage and then apply for retrospective approval, which would be granted as a matter of course.

"We continue to believe that a strong and severe message should be sent to developers that they should stay within approved plans,'' she said.

"We commend councillor Dickson's firm stand in this matter.

"His comment, reported today, that "rules are the rules" and that consistency is an important factor to be respected is encouraging. We urge the other councillors to join him in this principled stand."

Ms Neep said the suggestion that an appeal to the Planning and Environment Court, administering state legislation, was likely to deliver developers their requested retrospective approval concessions brings into question who was really in control of the conditions under which towns and cities were developed.

"That opposing such an appeal would come at a high cost to the council and be ineffective, as has been mooted, is in its nature an implied threat which we encourage the Council to resist,'' she said.