Sekisui to meet with councillors over development plans
SEKISUI House looks set to meet with all Sunshine Coast Councillors in early September over plans for a controversial beachside development at Yaroomba.
The Daily understands councillors were approached by the Japanese development firm recently to discuss the progress of any future proposal.
Planning portfolio holder Councillor Christian Dickson said an email had been sent out which he believed intended for individual councillors to meet with the developers.
He said he suggested to Sekisui House and the council's CEO Michael Whittaker that instead the developer should meet with all councillors and the council's executive staff, rather than on a one-on-one basis.
Sekisui House said contact had been made to see if councillors were able to make the fifth Yaroomba Beach Discussion Group meeting to take place in Nambour on August 19 which will also be attended by recently announced hotel partner Starwood Hotels and Resorts, who hope to develop the five-star Westin Coolum Resort and Spa on the site.
Invitations to the next discussion group have been sent to individuals and groups who had participated in previous meetings which included representatives from OSCAR, Coolum Residents Association, Sunshine Coast Environment Council and other regional bodies.
Sekisui House senior development manager Evan Aldridge said councillors who had previously attended discussion groups were invited to attend next week's gathering at Nambour RSL.
"Councillors and the CEO have recommended that Sekisui House attend a future meeting of all councillors to provide an update about Yaroomba Beach in September, which Westin will also attend," Mr Aldridge said.
Cr Dickson said he felt it was appropriate that all the councillors and executive staff met with the developer together, rather than individually.
"We would do it with any other major developer who would like time with council," Cr Dickson said in reference to holding a strategic, whole of council meeting.
He thought it was time for a change of approach, engaging in full-team meetings rather than one-on-one meetings and said the council had made its position clear last year on high-density development on the site.
Mr Aldridge confirmed in June that a 10-storey proposal was "off the table".
Exact details of any plans remain unknown and Cr Dickson said he hoped the September meeting would shed some light on what the developer had planned to submit as part of a formal Development Application.
"They'll need (to present) something substantial," Cr Dickson said.
"They need to be leading the proposal, not council."
Mr Aldridge said the August 19 meeting would be a significant step in the process as the attendees would be presented with "broad concepts based on principles agreed to at previous meetings".
"We have a long way to go before we have a development proposal, but this presentation will be an important step that allows us to start working on a proposal," he said.
No formal DA has been submitted on the site, the council last year rejected a proposal to make amendments to the planning scheme to allow a DA to come forward.
Cr Dickson encouraged as much community engagement as possible on not only the Sekisui House site but all future developments in the region.
Coolum Residents Association president Mark Bizzell said he couldn't understand why more of the community hadn't been brought in on the early planning stages and they were still awaiting more detailed plans.
"Why aren't they coming out and gauging the public's wishes?" he asked.
Development Watch president Lyn Saxton said she'd resisted going to previous discussion group meetings in case it appeared the group supported a proposal that may be put forward outside the town plan, but she said she was now willing to discuss with the developer where they felt their plans were headed.
Coolum Business and Tourism president Malcolm Chilman said he thought the developer had "gone back to the drawing board" and were seeking to re-engage with the community over the project.
"They're (Sekisui House) trying to repair the relationship with the community," he said.
He was confident the developer would come back with a more appropriate proposal in future but was prepared for a long-term process.
He was looking forward to more ideas coming as community consultation progressed and thought a better site outcome may be possible if they could look beyond the town plan.
"We just want good outcomes," he said.