IN A DECISION that was handed down last week, an appeal against Sunshine Coast Council’s decision to allow a contentious development on a parcel of land at Yaroomba Beach has been dismissed. The ruling has stunned local advocacy groups with the decision now making way for the controversial Sekisui House development to be back on.
The original development which proposes to build up to seven storeys will also include a five-star resort and up to 740 residential dwellings. The original development application was approved by Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) in a 6-5 vote in 2018.
Since that vote, the case has been in and out of court with Appellants Development Watch (DW) and Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC) advocating on behalf of the local community who they say do not want such intensive development on the site which goes against the town plan.
Her Honour Judge Nicole Kefford who handed down her findings in the Planning and Environment Court on June 8 stated that… “the matters that support the approval are compelling. They persuade me that the proposed development is meritorious and should be approved.”
The appeals lodged by the Appellants DW and SCEC always came down to the groups stating that the building heights were not in accordance with the town plan and were not what the community wanted.
The news last week came as a crushing blow to both SCEC and DW with the consensus being that the local community are once again uncertain as to what the future holds.
Lynette Saxton, President of DW said that the group would seek advice on a further appeal.
“It is open to Development Watch to appeal the matter again to the Supreme Court and we will now have our legal team peruse the judgment in detail with a view to obtaining advice on our prospects of success of another appeal.
“If that advice is positive, we will liaise with Friends of Yaroomba, and the DW committee will then make a decision on whether to proceed with another appeal.”
Narelle McCarthy from SCEC said that as the Second Appellant in the matter, they would carefully review and consider this latest judgement.
“We maintain the scale and intensity of the development poses unacceptable threats to the endangered loggerhead turtle and their sensitive coastal habitat.
“Yaroomba is an important site for the endangered loggerhead turtle and turtles need dark beaches to nest, and the artificial light produced from this intensive development with some 750 dwellings and three, seven storey buildings pose a huge risk to their recovery and viability.
“SCEC also considers this proposal is still at odds with the planning scheme and the community and we are extremely disappointed with the decision delivered in the Planning and Environment Court by Her Honour Judge Kefford DCJ to uphold the Sunshine Coast Council’s contentious approval of the Sekisui development proposal at Yaroomba.”
SUNSHINE COAST COUNCIL RESPONSE
A SCRC spokesperson provided the Advertiser with the following response,
“On June 8, 2023, the Planning and Environment Court provided its judgement on the remitted Sekisui House, Development Watch and Sunshine Coast Council appeal matter and Her Honour Judge Kefford dismissed the appeal.”
“The development approval as issued by Council is now valid for the site, allowing:
*Preliminary Approval (in accordance with Section 242 of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009) for Material Change of Use of Premises to establish Yaroomba Beach Master Plan.
*Development Permit for Material Change of Use for Resort Complex, Multiple Dwellings, Short Term Accommodation, Shopping Centre, Educational Establishment, Community Use and Utility Installation.
*Development Permit for Reconfiguration of a Lot (10 lots into 13 lots – including two commercial lots, 3 park/carpark lots, two buffer lots, one transfer station lot, one principal body corporate lot, two access lots and two balance management lots and access easements).”
Council further stated that the application was thoroughly assessed on its individual merits and the full report, along with substantial documentation involved in the assessment process, could be publicly viewed on Council’s Development.i website.
Appellants DW and SCEC now have 30 business days which started from Friday, June 9 to lodge a further appeal with both stating they will take the advice of their lawyers who must decide if there are grounds once again to appeal.
Sekisui House was contacted for comment but did not get back to the Advertiser by the time of going to print.
BACKGROUND ON YAROOMBA DEVELOPMENT
*A development application (DA) was submitted to Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) by Sekisui House (SH) Coolum Pty Ltd which sought to develop a large parcel of land on the beachside adjacent the Palmer Coolum Resort. The DA proposed to do this in five stages starting with a five-star resort.
*SCRC approve the DA on June 21, 2018, in a five to six vote with previous Division 9 Councillor Steve Robinson voting yes and current Division 8 Councillor Jason O’Pray voting no.
*Two community organisations Development Watch Inc. and Sunshine Coast Environment Council Inc. (appellants) appealed SCRC’s decision. The appellants asked that the DA be refused.
*May 25, 2020, the appeal was dismissed in the Planning and Environment Court, confirming the decision of SCRC to approve the DA.
*Development Watch Inc. applied for leave to appeal that decision to the Court of Appeal.
Her Honour Judge Nicole Kefford stated that the Court of Appeal described the appeal as having a narrow basis.
*The application for leave to appeal was heard by the Court of Appeal on March 10, 2021. On February 9, 2022, the Court of Appeal delivered its substantive reasons for judgment and leave to appeal was granted, the appeal was allowed, and the original decision was set aside. A majority in the Court of Appeal found three errors of law in Her Honour’s decision.
*On May 17, 2022, the Court of Appeal delivered further reasons for judgment remitting the case to the P&E Court to be determined according to law.
*June 8, 2023, The appeal was dismissed, and the original decision is upheld.
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