Noosa Council has the state approval for its new town plan.
Noosa Council has the state approval for its new town plan.

New Noosa Plan on hold as argy bargy continues

THE Noosa Plan will sit in limbo now until after the March 28 election despite receiving official sign off from the Planning Minister's department.

The office of State Planning Minister Cameron Dick did issue an approval for the Noosa Shire Council Planning Scheme on February 18, but the sign-off was contingent on the council meeting a series of conditions.

The matter has since been the subject of argy bargy between the council and one of its councillors, Ingrid Jackson, who has announced she will step down from council after this term.

Cr Jackson has argued the State Government has in essence, rejected the plan in its current formulation because the advice is subject to the council complying with eight conditions.

Further, Cr Jackson claims the council will dispute two of those conditions --- that of koala mapping and on social and community housing.

Noosa Council CEO Brett de Chastel yesterday attempted to clarify the situation.

Mr de Chastel said the Minister had written to Council on February 18 to advise that he had approved the planning scheme, on the basis that Council had met specific requirements in accordance with the Planning Act 2016, and that Council could proceed to adopt the scheme subject to some conditions.

"There has been some misinformation and misunderstandings about exactly what that means, so I feel it's important to clarify this for the community," Mr de Chastel said.

"It's commonplace for a Minister to impose a range of conditions on a proposed planning scheme, after conducting the final state interest test.

"With the Minister's approval in place, Council had the option to adopt the new scheme as advised by the Minister or continue to hold further discussions with the State Planning department.

But Cr Jackson said it was not a proper approval given the Minister's advice was subject to the council complying with a list of conditions.

She said, at her request, councillors have now been provided with the Minister's written notice which said: "I hereby advise the Noosa Shire Council that it may proceed to adopt the Noosa Plan 2020, subject to the following conditions".

"The word approval is nowhere to be seen," Cr Jackson said.

It comes after earlier comments from Mayor Tony Wellington who said Cr Jackson was "incorrect" in stating that the State Government rejected the new Noosa Plan.

"Quite the opposite is the case. The Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick, has written to me stating, 'I am pleased to advise that the council may proceed to adopt the proposed planning scheme'," he said previously.

"That is not a rejection but rather an approval."

Mr de Chastel has said the council was intending to carry out many of the conditions stipulated by the Minister. The full list of the conditions are as follows:

• Adding more guidance for the development of the Shire Business Centre within 12 months of adopting the scheme.

• Finalise Council's Coastal Hazards Adaptation Plan funded by the State Government and incorporate information into the scheme within 12 months of adopting the scheme.

• Monitor the provisions relating to short term accommodation, tourism and housing supply over a 2 year period and determine whether any changes are required after that time and provide a report to the Minister. The Ministerial conditions didn't require any changes to the draft scheme before adoption.

• Some technical changes to ensure consistency with various State Codes.

• Make some minor changes to the Bushfire Hazard overlay map.

• Amend the Biodiversity, Waterways and Wetlands overlay to better align with state instruments.

• Amend the scheme's provisions for social and community housing to change Council's proposal to require social and community housing and instead, make the provision of social and community housing discretionary.

• Change our koala mapping to reflect the State's koala mapping.

Mr de Chastel said council did need "time to consider these last two conditions more thoroughly" and with the election caretaker period looming, the Minister's approval didn't allow sufficient time for this to happen and have council adopt the scheme, he said.

"To be clear the Minister for Planning has advised Noosa Council that it can adopt its new plan and a Council can adopt its scheme at any time after it receives Ministerial approval to do so," Mr de Chastel said.

Cr Jackson said "where is the evidence that that Council intended to carry out the conditions?"

"None of the information and documentation provided to the Council referred to any intent to carry out any of the conditions newly imposed by the Minister.

"If there was an intention to do something it should have been shared with elected councillors. It wasn't," she said.

Cr Jackson said a newly elected Council may or may not decide to adopt the new Noosa Plan in its current formulation.

"Under the legislation, the new Council may choose to either:

• Adopt the new Noosa Plan with the conditions imposed by the Minister, or

• Adopt the new Noosa Plan with any revised conditions imposed by the Minister, or

• Not proceed and instead review the new Noosa Plan, which may require further ministerial approval and possibly further community consultation."

Cr Jackson said the new council was facing "a possible quagmire of negotiation".

"The process is not as straightforward as the Council officers are purporting. Nor as definitive," she said.

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