OPINION: Residents' group gives its view on Mooloolaba
WITH reference to articles published recently in the Sunshine Coast Daily, there is a need to correct some information within statements made regarding the proposed amendments to the Mooloolaba Town Plan and the position of the Spit Protection Association (SPA).
First, we had Ashley Robinson, in his opinion piece of December 3, stating that he saw posters at the tent where the SPA was collecting amendment objections claiming that "We don't need another five-star hotel".
In fact, he can have seen no such poster, because there was no sign erected that made any reference to an hotel of any particular rating.
Indeed, such a poster did not and does not exist. Furthermore, his reference to the Sekisui development is entirely fabricated.
Now we have the Sunshine Coast Council, echoed by the Mooloolaba Business Council, stating that the amendments are required to bring the Planning Scheme 2014 into line with Place Making Mooloolaba Master Plan.
This is misrepresentation because the Place Making Mooloolaba Master Plan mirrors the existing Planning Scheme 2014, at least in terms of height and bulk constraints.
This can be seen in the diagram on page 31 (Chapter 4A) of Place Making. The diagram places the Club Eatery site at 37.5m; the Mooloolaba Heart (Walan, Smith and Muraban streets) at 15m and First Avenue (north) at 15m.
For the business council to claim that "the amendments were in line with the Mooloolaba masterplan" is grossly misleading.
We have raised no objection to an hotel of any kind per se.
We note that on page 30 (Chapter 4A) of the Place Making Mooloolaba Master Plan there is a statement: "Should a 5/6 star hotel operator express interest in developing, then site opportunities may require further investigation within Mooloolaba".
As far as we have been able to ascertain, no such hotel operator has come forward. There is no indication that such an operator would require an amended building height or bulk beyond the Planning Scheme 2014.
When Aria was refused approval by council for a height of 45.5m and 80% coverage (at the Club Eatery) in October 2015, the council's planners considered the variance from the Planning Scheme height limit (of 37.5m) to be significant and "would not be consistent with the reasonable expectations of the local community given the recent commencement of the planning scheme, and the specific consideration of this issue as part of plan-making (and submission review) process" and "the proposal would appear excessively large in comparison to other developments along Mooloolaba Esplanade, cause overshadowing and result in the loss of views enjoyed by neighbouring properties when compared with a building that complied with the town plan".
It is not clear why council now thinks that a building height of 50 metres with 90% coverage would be acceptable to the community, or that the issues raised by the planners have diminished.
There have been no substantive changes to the situation or environment, so there can be no justification for an even greater height and bulk provision barely one year later.
Without any mention of the participation of a hotel operator, are we to assume that Aria (the developer) will also be the operator of the proposed 5/6 star hotel at the Club Eatery? What prior experience does Aria have in hotel operation and what assurance is there that Aria is a competent operator for a 5/6 star hotel?
In addition, SPA has repeatedly been accused of being "anti-development". Again Ashley's inference that we are "NIMBYs" who aare "banging on about that (amendments to the plan)" is equally a misrepresentation.
We are not "anti-development". Indeed, we support responsible and sustainable development and agree that many parts of Mooloolaba need investment.
However, we contend that these developments must be conducted within the Planning Scheme 2014 as it best reflects the wishes of the majority of stakeholders in Mooloolaba regarding how the place in which they live and work is shaped.
We can only speculate why there are proposals for an amendment to height and bulk for Club Eatery and height in the Mooloolaba Heart and First Avenue (north).
It's hard to understand why those promoting the proposed amendments appear to be driven to misrepresent facts.
Perhaps it's because the case for the amendments doesn't stand up to informed scrutiny.
Mooloolaba Spit Protection Association