Public protest at Tickle Park, Coolum, opposing the proposed Sekisui high rise development at Yaroomba.
Public protest at Tickle Park, Coolum, opposing the proposed Sekisui high rise development at Yaroomba. Brett Wortman

Council urged to defend planning scheme at Yaroomba

ONE key community group which opposed previous plans by Sekisui House for its Yaroomba site will boycott a meeting called by the developer while others will attend only to observe the process.

The first of a series of four meetings planned by the developer will be held today from 8.30am to 11am at the Nambour RSL Club.

There will be about 39 people attending including consultants and lobbyists for the developer, business group representatives, council and state government staff, five Sunshine Coast councillors and academics.

A further two-hour meeting will be held at the same venue on May 24 followed by two further sessions at the Coolum Residences display centre on May 24 and May 31 both between 8.30am and 10.30am.

A final session will be held at the RSL on June 7 from 8.30am.

There is deep suspicion the process is a Trojan horse for another attack on the Planning Scheme after Sekisui House previously attempted to drive through a proposal for a series of highrise towers on the site which has an 8.5m height limit and restrictions on the intensity of development.

Development Watch president Lyn Saxton said it was not up to the community to brainstorm ideas at a meeting called and organised by the developer.

"They should be coming to the community with a proposal not a blank sheet of paper,'' Ms Saxton said.

"They should be working with their architect to come up proposals that fit the Planning Scheme.

"The planners who attend the workshop should respect the Planning Scheme. Without it they wouldn't have jobs.

"There will be plenty of people there who should know what the document says.''

OSCAR president Ian Christesen said his executive wanted him there to observe but did not want to partipate in anything that undermined the Planning Scheme.

He said the document and what it says can be accommodated on the site should be the starting point for any discussions. Instead he said it appeared discussion would start with Sekisui's initial rejected proposal which was something like three times the scale the scheme envisaged.

Sunshine Coast Environment Council campaigner Narelle McCarthy said the Planning Scheme was the governing document for the site.

She said a report by Sunshine Coast Council staff and supported by the council's Urban Advisory Panel had in April last year recommended against planning scheme amendments for the site.

Ms McCarthy said she would attend and assess the process from there but SCEC would be looking to see whatever was built stayed within the planning scheme, was constructed to sustainability design principles and was carbon neutral.

Sekisui failed to address a series of questions put by the Sunshine Coast Daily but issued a statement saying it remained "focused on establishing a suitable framework with Council in order to relook at its iconic 19ha Yaroomba Beach site".

Sekisui senior development manager Evan Aldridge said it was disappointing Development Watch would not take part in "an open and frank group discussion with other key stakeholders to provide input about key issues the community raised, and hear first hand from relevant experts about options for taking a new approach".

"It appears to be at odds with their sentiments raised at Sunshine Coast Business Council workshops about improving community engagement and providing input into proposals before development applications are made," he said.

"Hosting the discussion groups is part of the company's proactive community engagement process and meets recommendations from Council and State government for involving the regional community in progressing plans for the iconic site in a designated tourism focus area.

"We are looking forward to the discussion groups to proactively gather input from local residents, community and business leaders and organisations about realising the site's potential for the region."

Outcomes of the discussion groups will be assessed by Sekisui House to enable a revised proposal to be prepared later this year.

Michael Gavin, the body corporate chairperson of the gated Whitehaven estate which adjoins the site has not been invited to the meetings although a much earlier chair of the organisation has been.

Mr Gavin was critical of the earlier proposal by Sekisui House which was rejected by councillors after a critical report by council officers.

He said the developer needed to draw plans, show them to the community and put the case if the development application exceeded the planning scheme.

Mr Gavin said Sekisui had paid too much for the land and wanted the community to allow a more intense development to justify it.

"It would be like moving Surfers Paradise here,'' he said of the earlier Sekisui House proposal.

"The reasons people bought and live here would be destroyed. The developer paid too much and now everyone is expected to change the reasons they live here.

"At some stage Sunshine Coast Council has to inform Sekisui House it must put its DA in and make its argument."

Mr Gavin has written to the Labor Government reminding it had been a Campbell Newman pet project.

More than 8000 people wrote letters to Mr Newman when he was Premier calling on the government to uphold the planning scheme.