VISITORS: Noosa’s short-term accommodation options, such as those at the Viridian Resort, are important for tourism
VISITORS: Noosa’s short-term accommodation options, such as those at the Viridian Resort, are important for tourism Outrigger

Resort residency row does not budge councillors

AN ATTEMPT by one unit owner of an exclusive Noosa resort to remove the ban on permanent residency has been rejected by the Noosa Council for fear of setting a precedent.

But planning consultant Bob Borger, speaking for the Viridian Resort unit owner, believes council is ignoring a previous relaxation at another resort that should have paved the way for his client being able to have longer stays at the Noosa Hill accommodation complex.

The application went before councillors last week with the contention from the owner "that the change is consistent with the condition applied to the Noosa Springs approved resort".

Council development assessment co-ordinator Kerri Coyle in her report said the proposed change is not consistent with the short-term visitor accommodation designation under the Noosa Plan.

"The proposed change is also inconsistent with The Noosa Plan which identifies this site as one of several in Noosa to be protected for resort development, given the importance of tourism to Noosa's economy," Ms Coyle said.

"While the proposed change may not result in any significant impacts, approving the change is likely to result in other resort unit owners seeking similar concessions and there are no grounds in the community's interest to approve the application."

Ms Coyle said in November 2009 council refused a change to the approval to allow occupation of 54 units on a permanent basis and that a further application sought 38 of the units to be occupied full-time.

"This (second) application was similarly refused and was subject to an appeal, which was dismissed by the Planning and Environment Court and council's decision upheld," she said

Ms Coyle said the "loss of visitor accommodation to permanent residential housing reduces visitor choice and therefore has the potential to have a negative effect on the economy."

"Mixing long-term accommodation for residents with short-term accommodation for visitors also has the potential to cause conflicts. While the Noosa Springs Resort approval does include a condition similar to the applicant's requested change, Noosa Springs was given approval under the Superseded Planning Scheme for a multiple dwelling," she said.

Mr Borger accused Noosa Council of "turning its back" on an earlier decision made at Noosa Springs resort to deny a Viridian unit owner a chance for long stays. Mr Borger said in 2007 the Noosa Council removed a condition that prohibited permanent occupation of the units at Noosa Springs.  He said there is no intention for the Viridian villa to be occupied on a permanent basis, but the owner was seeking the planning relaxation to "free up finance and resale restrictions which is a major concern". "As it currently stands, most financiers have an embargo of not lending where there is a condition like the one in the current approval," Mr Borger said. Mr Borger said "precedents" do have a place in town planning and are recognised by the Planning and Environment Court.  "The community would suffer no detriment if the change to the condition was approved," he said.  "To support Viridian's claim, it has been pointed out that in the Hastings St precinct there are 348 units with no restrictive condition yet only one unit is occupied on a permanent basis. "Research establishes that there is an over-supply of visitor accommodation in the region," he said. Mr Borger said that the actions of council in "matters such as this, the Coles and Masters (development application) refusals is going to influence investors and institutions to think twice about investing in Noosa".  

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