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Premier Seizes Planning Control
Bill Hoffman, October 6th 2010
RATEPAYERS could be left with future liabilities of $2 billion following the State Government’s decision to wrest control of planning for the massive Caloundra South development area from Sunshine Coast council.
Premier Anna Bligh told parliament yesterday morning that control of planning for the project would be handed to the Urban Land Development Authority because council had repeatedly broken deadlines to complete the work.
She said the ULDA would deliver planning documents within 12 months.
Council officials fear that if those plans don’t come with an infrastructure agreement, ratepayers would be expected to pick up the bill.
CEO John Knaggs said it would be necessary to include hefty contingency provisions within all future council budgets to cover the cost.
Finance portfolio head Chris Thompson said the ULDA had left Brisbane City Council ratepayers with the infrastructure costs of developments it had approved.
A clearly angry Mayor Bob Abbot said the Premier’s reasons for handing over planning to the ULDA were farcical and ignored the state’s own six-month delay in progressing the planning documents past the first state interest check.
The government’s indecision over the future of Caloundra aerodrome had also stalled the process.
Mr Abbot said council had written to Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe on September 30 outlining a process that would see the final structure plan for Caloundra South on his desk by January 11, 2011, well inside the 12-month timeframe the Premier has given the ULDA to complete the work.
Council had proposed to prepare amendments to the structure plan and associated documents by October 15; consider amended structure plan and documents by October 29; negotiate and complete infrastructure agreements along with any necessary changes to the planning documents by December 22 and the final submission of the structure plan to the minister by January 11, 2011.
Despite this, the Premier accused the council of playing “games” at the expense of planning the region’s future.
Mr Abbot rejected the accusation. He said of nine sites across SEQ identified to be brought forward as part of the State Government’s Affordable Housing Strategy, only two, Palmview and Coomera, had been completed on time and only one, Palmview, included a negotiated infrastructure agreement.
Of the other seven, only the Maroochydore Town Centre and Caloundra South had proceeded past the first state interest check.
He said the Premier’s actions were a slap in the face to local government across Queensland and the people of the Sunshine Coast.
Environment portfolio head Keryn Jones was reduced to tears in her frustration at the government decision while planning portfolio head Russell Green said there was no logical reason for the decision.
He said there were more than 6000 approved development lots on the Coast.