AN unusual conundrum has arisen that debunks the notion that Development Watch is anti-development.
Application has been made for 43 residential dwellings in the middle of Coolum, behind the Element building, on a site which is zoned town centre. Sunshine Coast Council planners rejected this development proposal but it was approved by the Councillors and now it is being appealed in the Courts.
Ironically, the appellant Development Watch considers development on this site should be more in keeping with the town plan, which would actually call for a higher level of development intensity.
In their submission, DW cite ‘Traffic safety issues related to exit from many dwelling/s’.
As was always sensibly planned, the cars could be placed underground and utilise the existing car park entry points off Elizabeth and William streets. Since roads are very dangerous spaces, this would free up the whole site for other more enjoyable community uses.
DW’s other main objection is about land use and that the proposal, ‘does not encourage pedestrian traffic between these premises and does not satisfy the requirement for active street frontages.’
This area could, by rights under the town plan, be intensified vertically so as to free up ground space which could include a town square; retail, commercial, green space, community artwork etc. But it is being proposed as private residential development.
This is the cheapest and easiest proposal from the land owner who will get their returns much quicker, but a sad tale of lost opportunity for Coolum.
The conundrum is that the planning process favours Council objecting to an overly intense development on the grounds of increased impacts, but it has less standing to reject on the grounds of under development because there may be less impact.
The town plan is meant to be performance-based for the betterment of the community but yet again Council take the easy way out, rather than trying to objectively quantify the potential cost/benefit to Coolum.
Once again, this challenge has been left to the community.
Adrian Just is Archicology Architects, and currently regional chair of the Australian Institute of Architects for the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay regions.