Hill song and dance: Fuss ignites over housing development
THE land now the centre of a looming legal battle to develop a large section of Noosa Hill was subject to a ministerial "call in" for a previous 2005 Noosa Council approval.
The Attunga Heights site, which has been refused a recent development application by council for a subdivision, is now the subject of a current Planning an Environment Court appeal.
The present applicant David Neate is seeking a material change of use to build two detached houses and 12 house units as well as reconfiguring of one lot into four with an access easement.
Councillors at this round of meetings will vote on a planning staff recommendation to defend the appeal.
"The site is characterised as containing significant environmental values with the site's vegetation identified as environmental protection by the Noosa Plan's biodiversity overlay," council development assessment manager Kerri Coyle said.
She said the site includes an "important wildlife corridor" through to Peppers Resort and the Noosa National Park.
"A watercourse further traverses the site, which flows into the Noosa River. The site contains sandy soils and has steep slopes, with slopes varying between 20 degrees and 45 degrees and a history of a least one known land slippage.
"A previous development application for 30 multiple dwelling units and 12 accommodation units for the site was approved by Council in 2005.
"This application was subsequently 'called in' by the minister due to the site's wildlife corridor and in March 2006, the approval was amended by the minister to preserve a 50m wildlife corridor through the site."
Ms Coyle said that approval has lapsed and the refused application now before council extends significantly into the areas zoned by council as open space conservation and outside the area zoned for development.
"The applicant submits that there is good reason for this and being guided by comprehensive site-specific technical reports, the development has been located on less constrained land offering significant benefits," she said.
And while council staff agree with the applicant the proposed development is located in part in an area that contains more moderate "weed-infested" slopes, it still extends about three quarters along the site's western boundary into steeper slopes and more intact vegetation.
Ms Coyle said the proposed site layout does not maintain a sufficient wildlife corridor through the site, inappropriately reliant on the adjoining Peppers Resort land, which includes the main resort driveway.
However Ms Coyle concedes this latest development layout "for the most part" also removed the need to construct a bridge across the site's waterway as was proposed in the previous development approval.
"The proposed multiple dwelling units have also been desirably designed as individual buildings stepping down the slope set on posts, rather than combining the units into one larger building as previously approved," she said.
However Ms Coyle said the "proposed extent and layout of the development in this area also impacts on the visual amenity and vegetation within Edgar Bennett road reserve (public pathway)".
"The proposal includes limited setbacks and opportunities for landscaping and significant earthworks are proposed for the driveway with up to 2m high retaining walls required on the boundary," she said.
"A number of the proposed multiple dwelling units, including units 1, 2, 11 and 12 at either end will also be highly prominent being three storeys and setback 2m from this road reserve boundary in places.
"The proposal further substantially exceeds the Noosa Plan provisions pertaining to site density, building height, gross floor area, site cover and boundary setbacks."
Ms Coyle said while some increased building height may be warranted on the site due to the site's slope, "the proposed building height is excessive in places and is not all in keeping with the surrounding built form".
And the applicant's offer to preserve a lot on a steep slope as a conservation park for council should not be accepted according to Ms Coyle, because of its risk of land slip.