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State Government asked to step in on Breeze project

This architectural impression was attached to the original development application for Breeze at Mooloolaba.
This architectural impression was attached to the original development application for Breeze at Mooloolaba.

THE State Government has been asked to call in the controversial Breeze apartment development in Mooloolaba as the Sunshine Coast Council continues to struggle with how to deal with the non-compliant building.

Independent Member for Nicklin and Speaker Peter Wellington met Deputy Premier and State Planning Minister Jackie Trad on Thursday night to request she act.

Mr Wellington said there was a clear and significant state interest in the matter.

He said he told the Deputy Premier a strong message needed to be sent to developers that must comply with planning scheme approvals.

The meeting with Ms Trad came at the end of the current Parliamentary session with the next not set to resume until October 11.

A spokesman for the Minister said the Deputy Premier was seeking further advice from her department after Mr Wellington raised concerns with her about a Mooloolaba development.

Mr Wellington said the council could either reach an agreement with the owner-developer to give it retrospective approval and seek a trade off or offset or it could refuse and see the matter go to court at the cost of a considerable amount of ratepayer money.

He said the second option, given the significant size of the building, was likely to be a fine.

Mr Wellington said the question that governed a Planning Minister using their call in powers was that an overriding State interest existed.

"I told her that as far as I'm concerned the issue was about the credibility of planning schemes,'' he said.

The council has known since July the the building, which had already been granted a series of concessions to the planning scheme, was in breach of its development approval.

An attempt by the developer Aria in August to secure retrospective approval for the structure met with only limited success.

The council approved minor changes to the ground floor layout and landscaping but refused to sign off on alterations to the building that changed the layout of ocean facing apartments.

Those changes were considered by council planning officers to have defeated the design outcomes promised in return for the granted planning concessions.

Answers to questions put to Mayor Mark Jamieson as to how his council would give Ms Trad the confidence not to call in the development as requested by Mr Wellington were given through its media department and attributed to Planning Portfolio head Cr Christian Dickson.

"Council will continue to undertake its role as assessment manager under the Act, dealing with the issues arising from the existing approval and the newly-lodged request,'' Cr Dickson said.

"Council has employed an independent architect to give advice on the visual impact of the changes undertaken by Aria. After receipt of the report council will determine the current request for variation.

"Compliance around other conditions, such as the height of building, are dealt with at the Plan Seal stage for the building format plan.  

"All building issues will be checked at that time against the conditions of approval. Any serious inconsistencies of material impact will jeopardise the release of the Plan until rectified."

In response to the latest of a series of questions put to the developer Aria's head of residential property Michael Hurley said it was "a company policy that we don't comment on media speculation".

"The Permissible Change for Breeze is following its due process with the SCRC,'' he said.

Aria planner Andrew Stevens, the managing director of Project Urban, acknowledged in a statement changes to the approved plan had occurred with the extension into the balcony of kitchens on 16 units and the balustrade detailing "slightly changed".

"Only 16 of the 57 units are impacted," he said.

In a statement with senior Cardno planner David Perkins he said there had been no change in building height, setbacks, site cover or to three of four elevations and that the curvilinear design of the building had been maintained and there was "still significant articulation of the Mooloolaba Esplanade elevation".

It was announced this week Ms Trad would decide the fate of the controversial West Village development in in Brisbane's West End which Brisbane City Council approved in May.

The 1350 apartments and 18,500 sq metres of retail and commercial space contained in seven 15-storey towers on a 2.7ha Boundary Street site won that approval despite its 95% site coverage breaching both the council's city plan and the South Brisbane neighbourhood plan with require 20 per cent green space.

The Sekisui House development's fate now rests with the Planning Minister and her advisers.

The decision was made after community concerns were expressed about the limited green space, potential traffic impacts and the project's scale.

The difference between that call in and any decision to call in the Aria project is one is still on the drawing board while the other is complete.

Planning experts and community groups this week raised concerns Sunshine Coast Council would set a dangerous precedent if it signed off on a project whose construction had been guided from the start by a building plan for which the developer had no approval.

All 57 units in the Breeze building have been pre-sold off that unapproved building plan.

The Mooloolaba Spit Protection Association said this week those sales indicated a level of confidence "equalling absolute certainty the council would retrospectively approve their non-compliance".

"If Council gives retrospective approval on the Breeze site, a precedent is set for all future development in Mooloolaba,'' SPA said.

The association says it holds grave concerns for the outcomes of two key development sites including the Aria-owned development proposal opposite Mooloolaba Surf Life Saving Club which has already been grant a height of 47.5m which exceeds the Esplanade planning limit of 37.5m and The Wharf redevelopment on Parkyn Parade.

Topics:  andrew stevens, aria, breeze, call-in powers, deputy premier, development approval, jackie trad, mayor mark jamieson, michael hurley, peter wellington


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