Mayor Tony Wellington has welcomed a Planning and Environment Court ruling on QIC’s Noosa Civic expansion plans.
The Court upheld Council’s 2015 decision refusing an application to double the existing retail space.
“This is the best Christmas present Noosa Council could receive,” Mayor Wellington said. “The Court’s verdict is a resounding endorsement of the integrity of our planning scheme.”
In a unanimous decision, Council refused the application in September last year citing major planning scheme conflicts, unacceptable impacts for other retail centres and costly implications for the road network.
The Planning and Environment Court judgement supported these reasons for refusal, noting that there were not sufficient grounds to overturn the planning scheme provisions.
Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said, "The proposed development did not aim to add significantly to the current retail mix in Noosa Shire. It was predominantly just more of the same.”
In his judgement, Judge Jones explained that he was “not satisfied there is a genuine community need for two more supermarkets (Coles and Aldi) nor for the number of specialty shops proposed."
The judgement also pointed to the “likely negative impacts on the Noosa Junction Centre.”
As Mayor Wellington said, “Today’s decision will come as a relief to retailers in our other local precincts, particularly Noosa Junction. The Judge noted that it is important to ensure that Noosa Junction remains a viable and vibrant commercial centre.”
The Court also recognised that the Noosa town plan had a long history of well planned development.
The Mayor said QIC’s proposal ignored the planning scheme’s long-term intent for the Shire Business Centre site. “The site is zoned for business and industry to diversity our local economy. Simply adding more retail does not serve this function. What we need at our Business Centre are real employment and business generators in fields such as the digital economy, education, health and wellness, professional services and environmental industries.”
The judgement also determined that the likely impact on the road network was of some significance.
“The court heard from traffic consultants that the development would have resulted in road upgrades costing tens of millions of dollars,” Mayor Wellington said. "Thus the long-term cost to our community, should this development have proceeded, would far outweigh the $750,000 it cost us to defend our planning scheme in court."
Mayor Wellington said the next step would be to work with the landowner to find a way forward. “I hope to see QIC come back to the table with a proposal that better serves our community’s long-term needs.”