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Killing the golden goose? Noosa Council cries foul over ‘unbridled’ population hike

Noosa has called for residents to reject the state government plan.

Noosa has called for residents to reject the state government plan. Photo: Getty

Noosa mayor Clare Stewart has urged residents to speak out about the state government’s draft south-east regional plan which indicated another 19,100 people would live in the council area by 2046.

Noosa’s current population is about 56,000 and the forecasts would mean that would increase to about 75,000.

There has been a long-held belief in Noosa that its population should be constrained and there was an informal population cap of 60,000, a level that has never been legislated and was a throwback to the 1990s in the era of then-mayor Noel Playford.

The state government released the population growth figures as a way of warning councils of what was coming and allowing them time to plan for it, but Cr Stewart said they could mean a doubling of building heights in some areas from four to eight storeys.

The look and feel of the region would also change.

“This raises major concerns for Noosa Council and we will continue to advocate strongly to protect our community’s interest, both to the minister and the Premier directly, as well as through the SEQ regional council of mayors,” she said.

“As we understand it, the state expects us to accommodate more than half of the 19,100 population increase (about 10,000 people) in the next two to three years, which is very concerning.

“It’s unrealistic and will place a huge strain on our infrastructure, environment and amenity.

“Similarly concerning is the state’s push for a relaxation of building heights to allow apartment buildings between four and eight storeys in some areas.”

She said this would greatly impact the look and feel of Noosa and it would lose the unique character that came from the low-set nature of its buildings.

Cr Stewart said this would undermine “something that we hold dear” and had fought for.

“These unrealistic population projections and potential changes to our height restrictions bring with them immense development pressures that threaten to overwhelm our infrastructure, including our roads and services. They also pose a significant threat to the unique way of life and natural environment that make Noosa unique,” the Mayor said.

“It’s our view that there’s been a distinct lack of genuine collaboration, and they’ve disregarded the voices of individual local governments,” Cr Stewart said.

“Local councils are best positioned to understand the individual needs and capacities of their communities and yet our voices haven’t been heard in this process.

“There’s barely anything of significance for Noosa in the state’s draft regional infrastructure plan, despite the population increase they’re expecting us to accommodate in a short period.”

“Unbridled growth is something Noosa Council and our community have fought hard to resist over the years, and we will continue to do so with great determination,” the Mayor said.

“It is crucial that our voices are heard, and that the state considers the individual needs and capacities of each of our own communities.”

Planning Minister Steven Miles said the draft SEQ Regional Plan includes population projections on the number of people who are expected to move to Queensland and where.

“This growth is coming and if we don’t plan for it, we risk losing the things we love about our communities,” he said.

“Our population is also changing. The number of one-person households will almost double and the number of older Queenslanders will significantly increase. So even without taking into account the population increase, we will still need more homes.

“The SEQ Regional Plan is focused on increasing supply by increasing density and diversity in the areas that can accommodate it. We can’t rely on opening up more greenfield development because it means more urban sprawl that will impact the environment.

“The reality is that there are Queenslanders who can’t find suitable housing in the areas they want to live, and we need to work together to fix that.”

This article first appeared in InQueensland. Read the original here.

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