High stakes Noosa subdivision may need further ‘horse trading’
RATEPAYERS could be the big losers to the tune of $4 million to $10 million if council agrees to a subdivision beside the Noosa Civic while koalas habitat is also at risk.
Developer Stockwell who owns the Civic submitted to council a proposed new infrastructure agreement last Thursday for its application.
A report before council includes a staff calculation “the difference in infrastructure charges payable would amount to approximately $4 million”.
“If the highest and best use for the lots is assumed the future infrastructure charges payable could amount to approximately $10 million,” it said.
And Mayor Tony Wellington is determined to ensure that this application, which is recommended for refusal by staff, does not see council carrying this cost.
He said this land through this application was being up-zoned so it has far more value, that would leave ratepayers out of pocket due to insufficient charges.
“One of the more salient reasons for refusing the application at this stage as I see it is the potential impost on ratepayers,” the mayor said.
“Staff and the applicant have been unable unfortunately to agree to a deed of variation on the infrastructure charges.”
Cr Wellington said Stockwell has argued “erroneously” argues that the intensity of this subdivision is “no greater in intensity” than previously proposed.
“If the differences aren’t factored into the deed of variation, Noosa Council and therefore Noosa ratepayers could be foregoing between $4 million and $10 million dollars in terms of lost infrastructure charges,” he said.
Stockwell development general manager Georgina Madsen said this was “a simple subdivision” and any future development application would see extra infrastructure development charges “absolutely” apply.
“Back in 2006 Stockwell as a developer delivered approximately $24 million in 2006 dollars (of infrastructure) to the community for the entire shire business centre,” Ms Madsen said.
Stockwell was still keen to negotiate a deal if the decision is to refuse tonight.
Cr Wellington said at this stage he was not prepared to support this.
“We’re trying to deliver on this two-decade vision for the community to broaden the economic base by making land available to business,” she said.
As well the mayor said the application did not satisfactorily address the new Noosa Plan draft scheme’s vegetation protection objectives.
He said nor did it minimise or compensate for the impact on koalas or address the “poor connectivity for pedestrians and bicycles” and adequately deal with noise amenity for the residential lots”.
“In keeping with what I consider to be the bare, scorched earth approach of the existing Noosa Civic with its acres of ‘bakingly’ hot bitumen and soulless buildings that ignore their surroundings, the application before us again arguably wants to take Noosa in that direction,” Cr Wellington said.
He said the Noosa aesthetics envisaged for this area was for a “new village in a parklike setting”.
Ms Madsen said: “We will ultimately develop up a plan for that mixed use precinct, but we’re not there yet.”
Cr Brian Stockwell said: “It would be a great tragedy for this community if it walked away from their long-held view that developers need to pay the way for the enhanced infrastructure required as a result of increased development potential.”
He was not prepared to support this application until the “realistic expectations of this community are met”.
Cr Ingrid Jackson successful deferred final debate on the application until tonight’s ordinary meeting while staff try to obtain legal advice on the proposed new infrastructure agreement.
“I’m concerned with not having the full information in front of me at the moment about this infrastructure agreement,” Cr Jackson said.
“I would prefer to be in a position to fully understanding that before making a decision,
Council must make a final decision by Friday or it will be considered a deemed refusal that council expects would trigger an appeal by Stockwell and possible ongoing court-ordered mediation to resolve outstanding issues.
Council staff said they had resolved many technical issues over a matter of months already in “a productive process”.