Sekisui concept plan proposes taller tourism zone
A CONCEPT plan marking the framework for Yaroomba's Sekisui House development features a six-to-eight storey tourism zone which could house a five-star resort.
The design concept was released to the public after a series of five discussion groups with selected stakeholders wrapped up.
The site is currently zoned as an 8.5m height limit with an existing development approval of two-to-four storeys.
The concept plan features a series of three and four storey buildings around the higher-density tourism zone.
Resort partner Starwood Hotels and Resorts hopes to construct the five-star Westin Coolum Resort and Spa on the site and Westin's presentation outlined why a low-rise resort element was not feasible.
"To compete internationally, the resort at Yaroomba Beach must meet the criteria for a 5-Star AAA rated resort," the Westin presentation read.
Among the key parameters for Westin, ocean views, convention facilities and operational efficiency.
It was in operational efficiency where Westin argued a low-rise concept wouldn't work.
"Low rise only works with ultra luxury experiences attracting nightly room rates far in excess of achievable rates for the Sunshine Coast," the presentation read while also outlining low-rise resorts carried higher build, maintenance and labour costs.
The resort component previously announced was planned to feature a 220-room, five-star facility with an 850 sq m conference space and a number of specialty restaurants.
Development Watch president Lyn Saxton was critical of the consultation process to-date.
"The local community are the ones that have to live with this (so they should be the key stakeholders)," she said.
She said nothing had changed in relation to the town plan since Sekisui House's previous attempt to secure a planning scheme amendment so she could not see how anything outside of the scheme could proceed.
Sunshine Coast Environment Council spokeswoman Narelle McCarthy said the resort was not their only focus. The amount of units proposed in the lower-density zones would also be an important issue with future site yield still unknown.
"We still want to see the planning scheme substantially complied with," she said.
"We certainly acknowledge the modelling that's been done."
Ms McCarthy said there were still concerns in relation to sightlines and views particularly with any impact of a higher building on the beachfront for nesting turtle populations which she hoped would be assessed further.
"We need lighting that would be no-impact not low-impact on the turtles and dunal system," she said.
Coolum Business and Tourism treasurer Luke Cameron gave a few of his personal opinions of the broad framework that had been produced, adding the issue was yet to go before the board or broader membership so he could only voice his own thoughts.
"I'm reasonably pleased with it," he said.
He said he'd expected the envelope to be pushed further than it had and felt Sekisui House had worked to try and please as many interest groups as possible.
"There's going to be people against it for whatever reason," Mr Cameron said.
"On-par it's a reasonably good mix. I'm quite pleased with the work they've done so far."
Mr Cameron spoke of the efforts with lighting and sightlines made by the developer and said the commitment to develop the hotel first would be a much-needed boost to the area.
He said incorporating the wider community into the development was also important and would be a benefit to the Yaroomba and surrounding communities.
Planning portfolio holder Councillor Christian Dickson was awaiting a formal presentation from the developer and planned to meet with community groups.
Sekisui House senior development manager Evan Aldridge was unavailable for comment yesterday.
He previously told the Daily that the wider community would be brought in on more detailed plans for the site once they'd been narrowed down further.
Division Nine Councillor Steve Robinson said it was still "very early days" in the process and it was best to wait until a concrete proposal was tabled.
"That'll be an interesting proposition for the community to consider," he said of the concept plan's six-to-eight storey tourism zone.
He said the council would wait and see what sort of community consultation was done by the developers and what sort of response it garnered from the public.