VOTED IN: Noosa's future plan to go to State review

NOOSA'S future goes on the line today at 10am with a special meeting of council as it considers its new planning scheme.

They will do so amid a back drop of a business backlash which has seen local traders' groups demand all considerations for such a vital direction shaper to be delayed until after the March election.

Adding to the intrigue, is that today's meeting appears almost certain to be one councillor short as Cr Frank Pardon's trial on historical sex charges is at a critical end with the jury considering a verdict today. Cr Pardon has pleaded not guilty.

Council has received more than 1500 written submissions on the plan that has raised concerns about signage and council's plans to tackle short-term lettings.

Today council will discuss the final changes to the plan, which will then be sent to the State Government for sign off.

Once the plan is endorsed by Council on Wednesday, the Plan is required to be signed off by the Minister before Council can formally adopt the new planning scheme, which it's hoping to do in early 2020.

We will bring you live coverage of the meeting here.

STARTS 10AM

10.25am

Mayor Tony Wellington told the public gallery 'I'm sorry to say that I will not be tolerating interjections or attempts to influence the debate from the audience, so please if you don't mind be respectful for the debate."

Cr Brian Stockwell before start of the debate declared a conflict of interest in that he helped prepare a submission for the Noosa Sea Scouts he is a leader of, about the scouts' block of land and left the room on that item

Cr Ingrid Jackson then sought changes to the short-stay lettings proposals "which had attracted the greatest number of submissions with  a large number being against the proposals.

"Yet the staff recommendation is still the same, that short term accommodation of whole houses and units must get development approvals in all zoness".

"On behalf of a large number of residents who are against this proposal, I propose instead that short term accommodation be accepted developments subject to requirements."

10.50AM

Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie  there is no evidence that no further increase in short term stays "would impact negatively on the existing tourism economy as the new plan does not propose any losses in existing tourist accommodation, but  the contrary" and allows for this sector to grow.

He said about 5500 properties have the ability to host short-term stays and a further 600 have the ability to apply for this in the medium and high density residential zones".

"Claims that short-term accommodation would be reduced under this planning scheme are absolutely false," Cr Wilkie said.

Mayor Wellington asked staff if Cr Jackson's motion was to pass  would this be a significant change and would that trigger that going back out for public consultation and cause delays in adopting the plan. He was told this was considered a significant change.

Cr Stockwell said the planning scheme would protect visitor accommodation, "and neighbourhoods of permanent housing are protected from short-term visitor accommodation that would impact on the amenity enjoyed by residents."

11.25AM

Mayor Wellington rejected a claim by Cr Jess Glasgow that the majority was in favour of the laissez faire approach to this form of short-stay accommodation.

"The key issue here is what we're doing to allow residents the opportunity to live in the shire," he said.

He said already large numbers of people were being forced out of the shire because they can't afford to live here and he said the majority of council workers now live outside the shire.

"They're having to drive in," he said.

He said there would not be a sudden loss of short-stay properties ... "it won't happen".

"There might be a minor attrition within the residential area and that capacity may well be taken up in the tourist accommodation area," he said.

In closing her motion, Cr Jackson raised the lack of evidence-based study that has been done here in Noosa on short stays.

"My motion is simply about giving people an opportunity to let out houses that they choose to let out and to diversify our tourism accommodation choice," she said.

She raised the prospect of a making an application in an inconsistent zone, would be something like a $9000 charge just by council.

She said on top of this there would be thousands of dollars in planning consultant' fees and "most people won't be able to afford that".

As for having to go back out for public consultation, she asked "whether it would be such a problem?" 

She said there is a petition asking for a deferral of this planning scheme that has already attracted 875 people "so the concept that this is real estate agents (complaining), I don't think so."

Her attempted amendment was lost with only Cr Glasgow supporting her.

12.20PM

Cr Jackson then sought to amend  the plan so that people can still apply for short-term stays in residential low density that would "still be impact accessible" as consistent rather than an inconsistent use

"A planning scheme should be performance outcomes oriented. And people should have the rights to make applications," she said.

She said it would still be less likely that people do apply because it was very expensive in even a consistent use area and this would be a more used friendly approach.

 Cr Wilkie said "when is enough enough?"

He said the planning scheme was about a balanced approach and council was honouring all existing use rights for dwelling houses and low residential.

1.20PM

Cr Joe Jurisevic supported Cr Jackson's move as did Cr Glasgow.

"The issue I have is that making short stay accommodation inconsistent in the low density accommodation does not alleviate these issues for the residents that live adjoining short-term accommodation where there are problems and may actually exacerbate the situation," he said.

He supported Cr Jackson's proposal for a local law to deal with resident amenity and manage existing and new short-term accommodation.

"I believe this is the most effective means of dealing with the matter."

And he said such a scheme should be evaluated first before adding further restrictions.

Cr Glasgow said there was too much speculation about what "maybe might happen" with the short-term rentals and there's "really not much hard data on the table exactly what will happen in the future for these type of uses in low density areas".

Cr Stockwell  in opposing her amendment, said it made sense to put in the scheme a "logical framework" that the fast majority of this community "signed up to as part of this planning process".

Cr Wellington said if this amendment did proceed it would be in direct conflict with the overall outcomes of the scheme and he believed this would have to go back out for feedback in the community until after the election.

"Now I know there are people in the community who would love that to happen, but here are the implications,"  he said.

He said this council has spent four years developing this scheme and it would take time for any new council to get their heads around this.

"It's going to take them (a new council) at least a year and a half," the mayor said.

Cr Jackson asked the planning staff if this would require a significant change that would have to go back out to the community and was told this was "probably more marginal" and a judgement call.

However the senior planner believed in her opinion it would be considered a significant change.

Cr Jackson said in her opinion her proposal was a much more balanced approach and she said real estate agents had told her the churn of property sales meant not all short-stay properties which had existing use rights  would stay that way.

"There's going to be a change and there will be a reduction in existing use rights and by keeping things inconsistent, there will not be a possibility of refilling those gaps, so you get less and less and less," she said.

Councillors, without the absent Cr Pardon's vote, were deadlocked when it came to the vote and Cr Wellington used his casting vote to reject the amendment.

2.10pm

Cr Glasgow lost his bid to have some Noosa Civic land in the shire business earmarked presently for open space recreation to be used for high density residential to help with housing affordability. There were concerns over the bush fire that he recognised.

Staff said in the future these issues could be relooked at.

Finally it came down to adopting the plan and Cr Jackson said this document was "a great step in the right direction" and commended the push to make the most of Noosa Junction's potential.

She backed the plan's approach to housing affordability though she was "supportive of more".

Cr Wilkie said there "many, many good things in this planning scheme".

He said it was an excellent document which accommodates the changing nature of business in Noosa Shire and addresses the need for growth.

Cr Jurisevic said a planning scheme could never please everybody and he said of this challenging process: "I don't ever want to go through this again".

Cr Glasgow agreed with him, while Cr Stockwell said this planning scheme has a gone a long way to achieving effective land use planning as outlined in the economic plan to provide "business certainty, a level  of flexibility and reduce red tape".

The plan was then adopted by council pending the State Government review.

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