Noosa has set out to be different by nature but is not the development-free zone it is presented as in some quarters, according to latest council figures.
Noosa has set out to be different by nature but is not the development-free zone it is presented as in some quarters, according to latest council figures.

Anti-development? Not this can-do council

EVER since Noosa introduced its "population cap" back in the 1990s, it has been given a bad rap as a "development-free" zone.

It's been depicted in some quarters as always in court spending ratepayer money on planning refusal appeals.

However, Mayor Tony Wellington is keen to bust that myth in the latest Noosa Council draft annual report soon to be adopted at council.

"Council assessed 479 development applications," he said.

"Only 20 were refused - meaning 96 per cent of all development applications that were submitted to council were approved."

And the report points out that Noosa is not suffering financially for its minority of high profile development refusals as it looks to implement a new planning scheme in the near future.

One indicator is the employment rate with the report showing this continues to be higher in Noosa than other areas.

Noosa's unemployment rate is 5.7 per cent compared to the balance of the Sunshine Coast, 6.3 per cent and Queensland's 6.1 per cent based on figures for last financial year.

More than 80 per cent the initiatives in the Local Economic Plan have been implemented or are substantially underway.

Council CEO Brett de Chastel said the council was kicking serious financial goals five years on from de-amalgamation from the Sunshine Coast.

"Sound financial management over that period has enabled our council to make an extra $10 million payment off our debt," he said.

"This is a bit like saving up extra money on the home budget and then paying down your mortgage ahead of time.

"It's hard work but has great benefits in the long term. That's one of the things about this council - it always takes a long-term view," Mr de Chastel said.

As for sustainability the mayor said "a range of activities were undertaken to help propel us towards our 2026 zero emissions target including installing over 1100 solar panels".

"All of these actions will generate long-term cost savings for council and our ratepayers," he said.

During the previous financial year, councillors also passed a resolution declaring Noosa a "Coal Mining and Coal Seam Gas Extraction Free Shire".

Mr de Chastel said this was to make it clear that these activities are not in keeping with Noosa's environmental values.

However, the council was still yet to nail down a crucial site close to everyone's hearts in Noosa.

"Council has been negotiating with the State Government regarding the acquisition of the former TAFE site at Tewantin.

"These negotiations include council making an offer to the State government to purchase the site, but no contract had been signed by the end of the 2019/20 financial year.

"Council is continuing the development of a Climate Change Adaption Plan for the shire and a Climate Hazard Adaption Plan which focuses particularly on coastal areas," he said.

The draft report will be voted on at tonight's ordinary council meeting.


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