O'Pray lifts lid on height fears with Sekisui plan
BATTLE lines are forming ahead of a looming application from Sekisui House for a massive high-rise development on the Yaroomba foreshore.
Division Eight Councillor Jason O'Pray lifted the lid this week on behind-closed-door workshops that have been held with the developer, sending emails to business and community groups seeking input on what they thought appropriate for the site opposite the Palmer Coolum Resort.
Mr O'Pray has asked whether residential and business stakeholders support the existing three to four-storey height limits as defined by the town plan, six to seven storeys similar to Surfair, 10 to 15 storeys representing the tallest buildings that exist on the Coast or an unlimited height.
He said the issues were height, density and traffic impact.
"I have the sense that our council wants an open-for-business reputation," Mr O'Pray said.
"I just want to see community consultation to the highest level in regard to this development. I want the community to have a say.
"I am gravely concerned about what potentially may go on to that block of land.
''The potential to have highrise buildings on the Yaroomba beach front sickens my community.''
How tall are you okay with the Sekisui House development being?
This poll ended on 30 August 2015.
Three to four storeys
Six to fifteen storeys
Nothing at all
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Despite being "absolutely certain" of the community position, Mr O'Pray will door knock residents in the Yaroomba, Mount Coolum and Coolum sections of his division and has urged his colleagues to also canvass opinion in theirs.
"Height, height, height is the singular greatest issue in those communities and the singular greatest issue across the Coast,'' he said.
"The community doesn't want high-rise of any sort on the beachfront at Yaroomba."
Reaction to the emails has been immediate, resident groups questioning how council could be even considering high-rise, high-density proposals so soon after the release of the new town plan in April.
Even before Mr O'Pray's email this week, members of the Development Watch community association had begun distributing to households 5000 pro forma letters to Premier Campbell Newman protesting his support for Sekisui House's push to massively increase densities on the site.
"Our current Planning Scheme was developed over many years and was adopted in April 2014 after consultation by Council with the the residents and your government,'' the letter to Mr Newman states.
"To force a change to it now would undermine the validity of all Planning Schemes.
"The majority of residents of Coolum are opposed to any further high-rise above four storeys on this site and three storeys in all other areas of Coolum.
"This is clearly reflected in the new planning scheme. The community expects any new development to be low-rise and low-impact."
Mr O'Pray, council's Tourism and Major Events portfolio head, said he would be the last to stand in the way of a five or six-star resort coming to the region but it would need to be built in an appropriate location.
He said he could not reveal detail of concept plans that had been shown to councillors in confidential workshop meetings but he was not happy with what was on the table.
Sekisui House has yet to lodge a formal development application but Mr Newman berated councillors and senior bureaucrats during Cabinet's recent visit to the Sunshine Coast demanding to know why they weren't doing more to support its proposals.
The Daily revealed last October that closed-door meetings between the state government, council and the developer had discussed Sekisui's plans for a $1.1bn project including 2300 apartments, 300 detached houses, a 450-room, six-star hotel and 35,000 square metres of retail and recreational space on 33,2ha of beachfront land.
A development of that scale would be the most intense on the Sunshine Coast and would create major traffic flows in excess of the current design limits of the David Low Way.
Cr O'Pray said he had questioned the increasing amount of time council was conducting its business behind closed doors.
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