The New Noosa Plan is a step closer to implementation after getting the State Minister’s tick of approval this week.
Mayor Tony Wellington said while Council welcomed the Minister’s approval, some conditions imposed around koala mapping and social housing require further discussion with the State’s planning department.
“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.
“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 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 two conditions imposed by the Minister had the potential to change some of the desired policy outcomes that Council was aiming to achieve through the New Noosa Plan.
One relates to Council’s approach to social housing at the Shire Business Centre and former bowls club site at Noosa Junction, with the Minister requiring changes such that Council would not be able 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 ten 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 our 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.
Director for Environment and Sustainable Planning 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.
“This is another reason why we shouldn’t rush the process.” Cr Wellington said.
Council’s Planning staff have worked closely with the community over four years, reviewing 1000s of pages of submissions and conducting three periods of community consultation.
CEO Brett de Chastel said once the outstanding matters are dealt with, the New Noosa Plan will come before the new council, after the Local Government election.
“We can adopt the scheme at any time now that we have the green light from the Minister and this allows more time to work with the State to ensure Council and community get a better result.“ Mr de Chastel said.