Raise your hand if the Noosa Plan is important to you

For most of Noosa, our Council staff and – fortunately –  a majority of our Councillors, the Noosa Plan is a pretty big deal.  It’s our blueprint – a contract between the Council and residents – for the kind of place we want to live in.

The previous plan guided our development for the best part of 16 years, and the current one – the 2020 plan – has some proposed changes now open for consultation. (more on that here)  The idea is we make the plan slowly, carefully and consultatively.  And then we defend it against the inevitable wreckers looking for a quick profit.  The plan is the roadmap that a Council and its voters agree to follow.

Until this month we haven’t had a chance to see how important the Noosa Plan is for our brand new Councillors – those still on their trainer wheels. 

This proved the first such test, and it told us a lot.

Stockwell Development Group – the giant developer behind Noosa Civic – is trying, quite literally, to push the boundaries of how intensely they’re able to develop their land, and therefore – how much money they can squeeze out of this asset.

Right idea, wrong place, wrong design

Stockwell has been pushing for a childcare centre along Hoffman Drive in the Business Park precinct, rather than in the Village ‘Mixed Use’ zone where it would more logically sit, and where Council planners think it should be.

The site Council says is not appropriate for a Childcare centre

The context here is important. A long court battle with the developer ended in 2020 with a deal that this area would be a “Noosa style” centre in a “park-like setting”, and that includes features (locked in way back in 2006) like a 10-metre landscaped garden bed along the road “synonymous with the Noosa style”.  A busy business centre, but with the green feel of a village. Remember, this was locked into a court settlement.

Stockwell’s Childcare Centre plan on this peripheral site (and minus the full, green setback) is seen as a bit of a ‘try-on’ by the developer, and Noosa Council planning staff along with most of our Councillors saw through it.  But two did not.

Second-term Councillor Amelia Lorentson and new Councillor Jess Phillips couldn’t see what all the ‘Noosa Style’ planning fuss was about.  Just let them get on with it.

Broadly, their argument was that the need for a Childcare Centre there superseded the agreed Town Plan design rules.  

A childcare centre is vital to our community, it offers essential services and employment opportunities.

Refusing this application because it does not provide the required 10-metre buffer zone is not in my opinion a valid reason.

Cr Amelia Lorentson

The majority of Councillors – five of the seven – did not see this as an over-simplified binary choice between the Childcare Centre and the Noosa Plan.  As Council planners say; there’s plenty of room for childcare nearby, in the appropriate place.  

Mayor Wilkie and his Deputy Brian Stockwell both pointed out this was not an argument over the merits of a Childcare centre, which is clearly needed.  It’s about the Noosa Plan.

It’s not that we need to debate the childcare centre, it’s about establishing standards to achieve an outcome … where the experience when you’re driving through is one of the natural elements and not one of the built form.

Cr Brian Stockwell.
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And so our Noosa Plan held together for another month – as it usually does – vote by vote, application by application…with our Council, or most of it, holding the line.

The majority of Councillors saw this in terms of a different binary choice: do we want our elected Council, Council Planners and residents to have the ultimate say in how Noosa progresses via the Noosa Plan they’ve taken years to agree on?

Or do we allow profit-motivated developers to make it up as they go along…pushing and prodding our Noosa Plan further and further out of shape?

It’s early days for this Council.  Our last Council was paralysed by poor leadership and political opportunism.  Hopes are high that this new Council will perform much better.  One of the tests of that will be how they embrace our Town Plan and defend it against developers ‘trying it on’.


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    It is possible on a shareholder voting form to nominate a group to have one’s vote. Is this possible with the Plan For Noosa. I would like my vote to be what’s recommended by NPB. Is this possible?

  2. Avatar

    Well done Ric. Thanks for keeping everyone up to date and the insight into the way member councillors are thinking.

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