State Government to address Sunshine Coast housing affordability crisis
The State Government intends to declare Caloundra South an Urban Development Area, Premier Anna Bligh announced today.
Ms Bligh said under the declaration, planning for the Caloundra South Structure Plan site would be transferred to State Government agency the Urban Land Development Authority.
She said the decision to transfer planning for the site was made after Sunshine Coast Regional Council repeatedly failed to meet statutory planning deadlines under the Sustainable Planning Act.
"The Sunshine Coast has the highest housing prices and least affordability in the state,'' Ms Bligh said.
"This was the case in October 2007 when the area known as Caloundra South was identified as one of four in the Queensland Housing Affordability Strategy and sadly it is still the case today.
"Two of those originally identified areas being Ripley and Yarrabilba are now being progressed by the Urban Land Development Authority in partnership with Councils as I have already announced.
"Another of those areas at Coomera has attained Council approval for a structure plan and I note reports from Council that it will be ready for approvals in the coming few months.
"Yet at Caloundra, with the potential to deliver around 23 000 homes, employment centres and transit services, planning has too often failed to be properly progressed.
"Council need to plan for the future - not play games.
"Poor planning will make it impossible for people born on the coast to continue to live there, and could see key workers like nurses and teachers forced to move elsewhere.
"Councils' own housing affordability study has determined the region is in crisis, yet they continue to make lame excuses to delay the process at every turn.
"Ongoing suggestions the State Government is directing growth to the Sunshine Coast are untrue and incorrect. People continue to move to the Sunshine Coast because it is a unique and desirable location.
"Council's repeated delays and refusals to meet planning guidelines has prompted my decision to take action.''
Ms Bligh said council had been granted two extensions and requested a third.
She said the possible declaration could see planning approvals made in suitable early release areas in the next few months instead of the current indefinite situation. The remainder of the site will be planned by mid-2011 to support consideration of future development applications within a statutory period of no more than three months of assessment.
If the UDA is declared, the BellaVista 2 development adjacent to the Caloundra South site will also be included to ensure orderly planning outcomes for this area.
The Caloundra South site has the ability to produce up to 23,000 dwellings for 50,000 residents over the next 10 years.
On September 2, Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Stirling Hinchliffe made it clear he would consider using call-in powers to progress the Caloundra South Structure Plan and BellaVista 2 if council continued to refuse to meet these statutory deadlines.
"The Sunshine Coast Regional Council's own Sunshine Coast Affordable Living Strategy 2010-2020 shows the region is in crisis,'' Ms Bligh said.
"In addition, BankWest data released in July Sunshine Coast homes were the most expensive in the state.
"Failure to plan for the future will not stop growth. What it will do is see people forced to drive long distances to drop their kids at school, get to work or visit the shops.
"Poor planning will see those long drives conducted on heavily congested roads because the necessary infrastructure can't be funded. Poor planning will also ensure that the housing affordability crisis continues to worsen.''
She said contrary to council claims, good planning would protect the region.
"Good planning ensures sites unsuitable for development, such as the Sunshine Coast's iconic cane fields, will remain protected,'' Ms Bligh said.
"Planning ahead safeguards the coast's landscape and lifestyle and ensures the people who know and love the area, including those born in the region, can afford to live there when they grow up.
"Continued growth highlighted in council's own study means there is a real need for good planning right now - something the State Government addressed with the inclusion of statutory planning deadlines for local governments as part of the Sustainable Planning Act enacted in December 2009.
"The State Government put these deadlines in place to ensure councils planned for the future by progressing suitable sites for development, providing affordable housing and ensuring key workers like nurses and teachers can afford to live where they provide their invaluable services.''
The State Government established the ULDA in 2007 to address housing affordability throughout the state. Since the Bligh Government's Growth Management Summit in March, six UDAs have been declared to provide housing in fast growing communities outside the state's south east. A seventh UDA was also declared on a 10ha site bounded by Vulture St at Woolloongabba on April 23. Cabinet has endorsed the declaration of a further three UDAs at the new communities of Ripley, Yarrabilba and Flagstone.