Election stalls adoption of New Noosa Plan
ONE of the most hotly debated issues in the unfolding Noosa Council election campaign, the New Noosa Plan, has been given the State Government’s tick of approval.
Council is set to go into caretaker mode from tomorrow, Saturday February 22, with the official issuing of the March 28 election, with CEO Brett de Chastel confirming the vital new planning document will come before the new council for adoption.
“We can adopt the scheme at any time, now that we have the green light from the minister (Minister for Planning Cameron Dick) and this allows more time to work with the state to ensure council and community get a better result.“ Mr de Chastel said.
Mayor Tony Wellington welcomed the state approval, but said some conditions imposed around koala mapping and social housing require further discussion with the state’s planning department.
“The caretaker period allows councils to carry out most business-as-usual functions, but not adopt something as complex as a planning scheme,” Cr Wellington said.
“Given the impending caretaker period starts on Saturday, we feel there just isn’t adequate time to properly consider and resolve some conditions imposed by the minister,” he said.
“The state has worked closely with council staff to progress ministerial approval and we appreciate that, but as this scheme will shape the future of Noosa over the next ten years, it’s important to get it right,” the mayor said.
He said two state conditions had the potential to change some of the desired policy outcomes that council was aiming to achieve.
One relates to council’s approach to social housing at the Shire Business Centre and former bowls club site at Noosa Junction, with the state not allowing council to mandate a requirement for affordable housing.
“This is extremely frustrating, as affordable housing is a critical problem for Noosa, so clearly we need to have more discussions with the State on this particular issue,” Cr Wellington said.
“We were only requiring 10 per cent of the high density housing on those sites to be affordable premises. Without that stipulation we cannot generate social housing through the scheme.”
Cr Wellington said another condition requires council to adopt the recent state changes to koala protection regulations and remove Noosa’s local provisions.
“Council has objected to this process and the outcomes via a submission to the State Government on the Koala Strategy. We’re concerned about these changes and further consideration is required,” he said.
Council’s environment and sustainable planning director Kim Rawlings said council is also awaiting formal legal advice relating to an interpretation of the State Planning Act and its implications for the scheme.
“We’ve been doing legal checks and balances every step of the way and it’s important we continue this process so we have all the necessary information before adopting the scheme,” she said.
The mayor said this is “another reason why we shouldn’t rush the process”.
Council’s planning staff have worked closely with the community over four years, reviewing thousands of pages of submissions and conducting three periods of community consultation.