Councillors slammed for causing ‘major blow’ to investment
The rejection of Stockland's controversial Twin Waters West development could cause a "major blow" to investor confidence, a Sunshine Coast business group has warned.
Sunshine Coast Business Council chair Sandy Zubrinich said Sunshine Coast councillors last week let down their development staff and the community when they refused Stockland's application for a masterplanned community between Twin Waters and Pacific Paradise.
There were 417 submissions made to the council about Stockland's bid to develop the flood plain north of the Maroochy River, with 132 supporting and 285 against.
The project 13 years in the making has been the cause of much community backlash, with most led by Save Twin Waters West in the past four years.
On Thursday, July 23 it was voted down by councillors eight to two, with those against it citing issues with the lack of compliance with council's planning scene and flooding.
Mayor Mark Jamieson did not vote and was not part of the discussion due to a perceived conflict of interest.
"Councillors ignored the advice and guidance of their own Senior Technical Planning Officers - who are all well paid and highly qualified to make these assessments," Ms Zubrinich said.
"Particularly galling were not only the statements made by councillors throughout the discussion to justify their decision, but rather what was absent from the discussion - the horrendous impacts of COVID-19 already obvious in this economy and the plight of the unemployed, underemployed and the youth in our region.
"This decision will be a major blow to investor confidence which is already relatively low in this region."
She said the decision contradicted the council's Regional Economic Development Strategy and the push for long-term economic and job growth on the Sunshine Coast.
"On Thursday, 23 July Councillors acted with no apparent consideration for the current state of our regional economy, the decade and journey ahead to get employment back on track, or the financial and health pressure unemployment and insolvency puts on our citizens," she said.
"This at a time when we need to seize every opportunity to stimulate economic recovery, to save and create jobs and to reduce the financial and mental stress of our people."
The officer's recommendation was to approve the application for the 108-lot masterplanned community that would include 645 dwellings across 104ha at Twin Waters.
Division two councillor Jason O'Pray successfully put forward the motion to reject the application.
He was backed by Rick Baberowski, Joe Natoli, Winston Johnston, Christian Dickson, Ted Hungerford, Jason O'Pray, Maria Suarez and David Law.
Councillors Terry Landsberg and Peter Cox voted against it.
Cr Landsberg supported the development due to its economic benefits and because "people want to live by the ocean".
He said he had confidence in Stockland's measures to prevent flooding.
Cr Cox said voting down the development could cause potential harm to the council's reputation.
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Cr Jamieson has not responded to the Daily's questions on the council's decision, but he commented on development at a press conference yesterday.
Asked about Development Watch's recent appeal to the Supreme Court following the Planning and Environment Court's approval of Sekisui House, Cr Jamieson said the Coast needed major projects to recover from COVID-19.
"I think if you think about the turmoil the world is in at the moment. Australia isn't immune from that, we need to make a lot of adjustments if we're going to recover and still have the same standard of living we've had in the past," Cr Jamieson said.
"Economic growth and development is a critical part of that."