Second Appeal will delay jobs further.

5 August, 2020
Author: Charles Hodgson

Sekisui House has warned significant local jobs are being lost while Development Watch embarks on a second court appeal over Sunshine Coast Council’s approval of the Yaroomba Beach development. 

Sunshine Coast Council approved a world-class mixed-use project including a 5-star hotel, residential and retail uses more than two years ago. Council officers recommended the application be approved. 

Council’s decision recognised significant benefits to the Sunshine Coast including: 

• 400 equivalent full-time jobs per year during construction 

• 355 equivalent full-time jobs ongoing in the hotel, retail and maintenance industries 

• the attraction of 85,000 new visitors per year to the Sunshine Coast through the creation of the first 5-star hotel on the Sunshine Coast in more than 30 years, with much needed conference facilities 

• the injection of $108m per annum into the local economy to support small and medium businesses 

• the creation of public parks, pathways, lifesaving amenities and reinstated lifeguard patrols to the adjoining Yaroomba Beach. 

Rooftop Bar with Mt Coolum backdrop

In May this year, the Planning and Environment Court of Queensland upheld Council’s decision, rejecting an appeal by Development Watch. 

Sekisui House Project Director Evan Aldridge said the Planning and Environment Court ruled there was no substantiate evidence provided by Development Watch to back up any of their grounds of appeal. 

“All five principal grounds of appeal that Development Watch and associated activist organisations raised during the appeal were found to be without substance,” Mr Aldridge said. 

“Despite the negative slogans of an ‘intensive high-rise development’ the court found the proposed mix of land uses favoured approval and would satisfactorily address the planning scheme’s intention for a tourism focus area. In fact court documents showed there will be less building floor area developed when compared to the previous approval over the site. 

“Despite Development Watch proposing there was not an economic need and the development would hinder the refurbishment of the Palmer Coolum Resort, the court determined there was a clear need for the proposed development, by meeting the latent unsatisfied demand for a five star resort in the locality and providing a variety of residential accommodation proximate to the beach. 

“Despite stunts and alarmist claims of traffic grid lock, the court confirmed the transport infrastructure would operate in a safe and efficient manner to prevent unacceptable off-site impacts. Further, the proposed intersection upgrades (to David Low Way) would result in net benefits to the community. 

“Despite misleading statements on the visual impact, the court found the proposed development was consistent with the intended character for the locality. 

“The court found the proposed development and building design respected the scale and character of surrounding areas and vegetation and protected the natural vegetated character of the coastal foreshore and fore dunes.” 

Mr Aldridge said alarmist misleading statements such as “the development will pose a significant risk to the population of endangered loggerhead marine turtles” or that the adjoining beach was a “significant turtle nesting site for endangered loggerheads” were not supported by evidence presented to the court. 

He said the facts were: 

• The proposed development would not pose an unacceptable risk to the loggerhead turtle and it complies with the relevant assessment benchmarks. 

• The Sunshine Coast records about 4% of all turtle nests for the South Pacific stock of loggerhead turtles, averaging about 62 nests per year. 

• Yaroomba Beach recorded fewer than two nests per year on average. 

• The majority (70%) of loggerhead nests on the Sunshine Coast were recorded south of the Maroochy River with the most prominent beaches being Buddina and Shelley Beaches. Both locations adjoin existing urban development and are subject to artificial light. 

“The facts showed that Development Watch used misleading slogans in order to generate donations previously to fund their campaign.” Mr Aldridge said. 

Mr Aldridge also noted that Development Watch would have to pay the costs of the new court action should the appeal fail. 

He said Development Watch’s decision to further delay the project by lodging a Notice of Appeal with the Supreme Court of Queensland was depriving hundreds of Sunshine Coast residents and small businesses of immediate opportunities. 

“The groups’ self-interest is unfortunately ahead of 400 construction jobs per year that could happen right now and many hundreds more in the hotel and retail employment once the project is complete,” he said. 

“Many local residents, local businesses, industry and commerce associations have supported the Yaroomba Beach project over the past five years because they see the benefits this project can bring. 

“Yaroomba Beach will be a catalyst project for the Sunshine Coast as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, but delays brought on by a frivolous appeal are costly for everyone concerned.”