Why should we all pay for rogue developers?

We’ve all seen the routine.  Some cowboy developers buy a property and then submit a development application that is significantly outside the Planning Scheme.  You might call it ‘a try on’.  

They try and shoe-horn their proposal, for what they want to make a profit, through Council by arguing it complies with the Town Plan. Or perhaps their idea of what the plan should be.

These developers think that the Town Plans that Council and communities spend years debating and refining, which are then approved by the State, simply do not apply to them.

Imagine the scenario where there is nothing to stop a property speculator buying the house next door to you, in your quiet residential street, and submitting a development application to add an extra couple of storeys and turn it into a late-night karaoke bar with street parking.

Then you have to spend the next few years spending thousands of hours and dollars, everything you’ve saved, fighting the proposal in the courts.

It’s simply not fair that ratepayers should pay the costs of continually protecting our Planning Schemes against attacks by speculators trying to make windfall profits by bulldozing the communities’ own blueprint for development.

That’s why, a few years ago, Peregian Beach Community Association began our campaign to get our State Government to listen to residents and Councils as much as developers and their lobbyists, and protect ratepayers from the unfair costs of keeping the wreckers and rent-seekers at bay.

We want two things.

1/. That a second, or subsequent, application to the court by a developer requires the developer to pay the costs of all other parties to the proceedings including Respondents by Election regardless of the outcome.

2. That a developer seeking to vary a Consent Order, besides paying the costs of all other parties to the proceedings, must offer the Council – on behalf of the community – a non-revocable significant community benefit before filing the application in court.

The Wellington Council listened to us and started lobbying the State Government. We are delighted that the new Noosa Council and Mayor Clare Stewart have continued to carry the torch, and the LGAQ State Conference, representing all Queensland Councils adopted this as policy.

As Mayor Stewart said; “This effectively means we’ve won the first major battle in reducing the huge cost to ratepayers in defending our planning decisions against claims by developers where an application is in significant conflict with our planning scheme,”


The residents of Peregian Beach have watched in frustration and bewilderment for over a decade as Thomco, the developer of the much loved old caravan park site waged a war of attrition on the community, continually shifting the goal posts as it sought to cram the site with expensive, off-the-plan apartments instead of visitor accommodation as the Town Plan and the community demanded.

This marathon developer assault on the Planning Scheme cost over a million dollars of ratepayers’ money, and our own community members $40,000 in donated court funds. It has cost millions more if you add the loss to the local economy, the lost visitors, the lost opportunity.

Would this developer have been so committed for so long if it was forced to pay the full court costs of trying to bulldoze the Noosa Plan? We doubt it.

Across Noosa over the past four years, the Council has had an unblemished record of winning each of the 34 court appeals by developers, but defending ourselves against this onslaught has cost ratepayers around a million dollars a year.

The remedy is clear. When these Development Applications are significantly in conflict with the planning scheme, the courts should have the power to award costs.

It is high time the Planning and Environment Court Act 2016 was amended to support the public interest rather than favouring the interests of rogue developers.

Independent Noosa MP Sandy Bolton is on board.

Now we need the State government to join in on behalf of local communities like ours right across the state, and amend the Planning Act 2016.


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