The view from Noosa balconies is the topic of hot debate.
The view from Noosa balconies is the topic of hot debate.

'Dramatic changes' slammed as balcony ban fears ignite

TRADERS groups in Noosa have slammed a local law proposal for short-term letting they claim will enforce a balcony curfew on many Noosa resort guests.

And they are demanding the changes be put on hold by Noosa Council until after that March election.

The Hastings Street Association, the Noosa Junction Association and Noosaville Business Association have released a joint media statement condemning the proposed outdoor area ban for holiday apartments before 7am and after 10pm.

"Even to view a sunrise from their balcony will be breaking the law under the proposed changes," they said.

"Under the proposed local law guests will not even be able to 'use or occupy', including walking over an 'outdoor deck or balcony' to enter or exit their apartment before 7am or after 10pm.

"We demand the holding off of the short-term letting laws and the New Noosa Plan to allow for community stakeholders to work together with Noosa Council to find some real workable solutions that will benefit all parts of the Noosa community."

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Council's environment and sustainable development director Kim Rawlings said many of the concerns raised about the proposed short-stay letting local law and aspects of the new planning scheme "were not all accurate".

"Council has proposed the draft local law as a way of managing gatherings and limiting the impact of noise from short-term letting properties on residential amenity after 10pm," she said.

"It is not intended to ban someone from accessing their balconies."

Ms Rawlings said the draft local law had not yet been adopted by council and would not be adopted until all of the feedback collected during community consultation had been reviewed, considered and changes made.

"There will likely be a further round of consultation next year so people can see the changes made," Ms Rawlings said.

The traders said under the proposed local law residential property owners, both owner occupied and landlords, will lose their right to have a choice as to how their property is used. "As an example, if in six years an owner occupier's circumstances change and they need to rent out their home due to ill health, they will not have the option to short term let their home, which will impact their ability to earn money to pay for their health bills."

Ms Rawlings said: "Most property owners in low density residential areas who have been short-term letting their properties, and can demonstrate this as a consistent use, will have existing use rights."

"Under the Planning Act, if the use ceases or is abandoned, usually for a period of 12 months or more, these use rights are considered to cease," she said.

The traders groups said the Noosa community was shocked to hear that Noosa Council had not carried out an economic impact assessment to support the "dramatic changes".

"Such a significant change should not be allowed to take place without a clear understanding of the economic impact to our shire," they said.

"Why are the proposed changes being rushed through?

"We urge the council to postpone the proposed changes, and to have an assessment on the economic impact completed as a matter of urgency."

The traders said the town plan "stifles the badly needed affordable housing options through economic development of precincts such as Noosa Junction".

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"A 3m imposed set back on any new build and increased parking requirements for any shop top residential developments will make any redevelopment of the Junction uneconomic and impractical - at a time that we should be encouraging smaller residential footprints and making car travel less attractive," they said.

Ms Rawlings said the draft new planning scheme would pave the way for more small, affordable housing in Noosa Junction, rather than limit it.

"The New Noosa Plan increases the potential for smaller dwellings in centres like Noosa Junction," she said.

"The new scheme encourages residential development for the Junction in the form of shop-top housing. It also encourages small dwellings with a maximum gross floor area of 100m2," she said.

"A small two-bedroom dwelling requires only one carparking space and there is also flexibility to substitute carparking spaces for motorbike spaces to maximise use of the land," Ms Rawlings said.

"The former bowls club site has also been rezoned Major Centre Zone and High Density Residential. The Centre Zone encourages shop-top housing, and the High Density Residential Zone will provide for small dwellings."

Ms Rawlings said three-metre setbacks only applied to Noosa Dr at Noosa Junction. Zero-metre setbacks applied to the majority of Noosa Junction streets, such as Sunshine Beach Road, Arcadia St and Lanyana Way.

"For the third floor, a two-metre setback will apply, however, it can be a zero-metre setback if it has an open balcony," Ms Rawlings said.

"These setbacks are actually reduced from the current plan and provide more flexibility. In addition, there has been further relaxation of allowable site coverage, while carparking requirements have been reduced for offices located on upper floors."

Ms Rawlings said drafting of the new planning scheme has been underway for nearly four years with several rounds of community consultation, plus input from various consultants and numerous studies, and council is proceeding with it as a priority.

The traders said recent public claims made by locals upset by tourist congestion, that tourism is no longer the primary economic driver and employer, were "simply not correct".

"Using councils own data sources, tourism and non food retail (specialty retail) are still the largest employer by far," they said.

The groups said the draft town plan offers "no solution to transport management around the shire at any time - and definitely doesn't assist with managing the seasonal congestion that all coastal towns with a tourist based economies suffer from".

"Our community badly needs investment in infrastructure to help manage the transport issue and help improve the peak holiday time experience for our residents and our visitors," they said.

"The time has come to hold the town plan over until after the council elections because of the controversial content in the proposed plan and the impact it will have on Noosa's social, environmental and environmental future.

The groups said an independent survey commissioned by Noosa Council and Tourism Noosa conducted this year of the broader community found the following:

  • 80 per cent of Noosa residents indicated that they approved of tourism because it is good for the community and economy.
  • More than 90m per cent of Noosa residents agreed that tourism is positive, events assist in non-peak periods and tourism stimulates the local economy
  • 80 per cent of Noosa residents agreed that tourism contributes to increased property values
  • 61 per cent of all negative response feedback from Noosa residents regarding tourism related to traffic congestion, parking and transport
  • Over 40 per cent of the businesses included in this study indicated that they would not be operational, and a further 34 per cent indicated their profitability would decrease without tourism
  • 68 per cent of all Noosa businesses indicated they would like to see tourism growth

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