File photo of the Aura development.
File photo of the Aura development.

Nothing subtle about state’s planning power

WIKIPEDIA tells us that in parapsychology and spiritual practice an aura is a supposed field of subtle, luminous radiation surrounding a person or object like the halo or aureola in religious art.

The so-called Aura foisted on this region's southern rump lacks both subtlety and radiance by any measure.

Demanded by a former state Labor government to be brought forward well out of step with any sensible and established planning process the urban sprawl formerly known as Caloundra South was brought into being under the artifice of a so-called Affordable Housing Strategy.

Having no power other than to obey the whim of the State Government, the fledgling Sunshine Coast Council responded bravely aiming to bring to the flood-affected land parcel perched precariously on the edge of a RAMSAR World Heritage-listed wetland, best practice in sustainability across every aspect of the development.

What followed next makes a mockery of the picture of suit-and-tie wearing men all with a shovel to hand that emerged from last week's naming of the City of Colour.

On October 5, 2010, declaring that those desperate for affordable housing could not wait on the feet dragging of the council's planning department which had already rushed to bring forward master planning for Palmview and the CBD, Premier Bligh ripped the process out of its hands.

A city the size of Gladstone she declared, would be shovel ready within 12 months. Instead what was first an Affordable Housing Strategy, then became an Urban Land Development Authority responsibility and finally now sits under the control of Economic Development Queensland to be known as a Priority Development Area has been three governments in the making.

The issue of just who pays for what infrastructure remains a matter fully understood only by those who participated in behind-closed-doors negotiations between the State Government, the developer and the council. What is certain is that whether as ratepayer or taxpayer the mug public will be wearing a significant cost for the decision to turn an old cow paddock into an urban development gold mine to the benefit of a single company with a propensity to land bank.

Questions are already being asked by academics about just what went on between government and business back in 2007 that led to the emergence of four massive master planned developments surrounding Brisbane, all out of sequence with established planning processes.

This new state Labor government will soon begin reviewing the SEQ Regional Plan and its urban footprint, the need for which is no longer "affordable housing" but instead to accommodate a further 2.2 million people, a move completely at odds with its previous promise to shift such growth out of the south-east corner.

Those projections are also at odds with the latest data that shows the appeal of a Queensland sea change is waning.

Just where the cookie cutter, that last time round unerringly found its boundaries on the property lines of less than a handful of land bankers, falls this time will be watched with considerable interest.

Wikipedia tells us that the depiction of an aura often connotes a person of particular power or holiness.

There was nothing holy about the creation of the City of Colour.

Its existence will be a continuing reminder that regardless of any promise made to voters during election campaigns that when it comes to planning, the power of the state over local governments and communities is absolute.