VOTED ON: The Noosa Town Plan has been passed and is to be signed off by the State Government.
VOTED ON: The Noosa Town Plan has been passed and is to be signed off by the State Government.

Noosa’s future on the line with new town plan

NOOSA’S future has gone on the line at a special meeting of the council today and critics of councillors’ approach to short-stay lettings received no joy.

The decision to accept this new planning scheme four years in the making came amid a backdrop of business backlash and a demand that adoption of the document be delayed until after the March election.

Adding to the intrigue is that the meeting took place without Cr Frank Pardon, who was found guilty in Maroochydore District Court during the council deliberations of historical sex charges.

This allowed for Mayor Tony Wellington to have a key casting vote during a deadlock on short-stay lettings to be a consistent use of the new plan in low-density residential areas.

The Mayor voted against allowing this amendment put forward by Cr Ingrid Jackson.

The council received more than 1500 written submissions on the plan that had also raised concerns about signage.

The new Noosa Plan must now be signed off by the State Government before the council can formally adopt it, which it’s hoping to do in early 2020.

Cr Jackson said short-stay lettings proposals “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 zones,” she said.

“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.”

Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie said there was 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”.

He said about 5500 properties had the ability to host short-term stays and a further 600 had 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.

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”.

Cr Jackson raised the lack of evidence-based study on short stays that had been done in Noosa.

“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 that making an application in an inconsistent zone would attract something like a $9000 charge just by the council.

She said on top of that there would be thousands of dollars in planning consultants’ fees and “most people won’t be able to afford that”.

She said there was a petition asking for a deferral of this planning scheme that had already attracted 875 signatures “so the concept that this is real estate agents (complaining), I don’t think so”.

Her amendment lost, with only Cr Glasgow’s support.

Cr Jackson then sought to amend the plan so that people could 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,” she said.

“And people should have the rights to make applications.”

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

Cr Joe Jurisevic supported Cr Jackson’s move, as did Cr Glasgow.

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.

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.

Finally it came down to adopting the plan and Cr Jackson said this document was “a great step in the right direction”.

The plan was then approved by the council.


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