Sekisui Sunshine Coast plan rejected by Supreme Court

Residents and community groups celebrate on the Sunshine Coast after successfully appealing against a planned billion dollar development for a small beachfront community on the Sunshine Coast.

This morning, the Brisbane Supreme Court delivered its judgment in the case against Sunshine Coast Council and the developer of Sekisui House, ruling in favor of community groups Development Watch and Friends of Yaroomba.

A community-funded legal challenge was launched against the development last year, alleging the Sunshine Coast Council changed its own planning plan to allow the five-star resort and housing project to go ahead on Yaroomba beach.

Kathryn Hyman of Save Yaroomba said the community felt vindicated.

“We can’t believe we actually won,” Ms Hyman said.

Ms Hyman said the community raised more than $400,000 to file the appeal in the Supreme Court last year, after their first request was denied by the Planning and Environment Tribunal.

“People worked hard, they worked tirelessly to raise this money,” she said.

“We haven’t had a chance to read this judgment yet, but the fact that we won, we just feel vindicated, because the community has been so invested in this project.”

Development did not meet community expectations

Court documents show the judgment was issued after “three errors of law” were identified.

They concerned the council’s town plan, in particular the codes relating to the building heights proposed in the development.

Community expectations for the development were also taken into account, as well as the number of submissions against the development.

An artist’s impression of the five-star resort and housing project that was planned for Yaroomba on the Sunshine Coast.(Provided: House Sekisui)

Judges Philip Morrison, Philip McMurdo and Martin Burns agreed to allow the appeal and overturn the previous decision of the Planning and Environment Tribunal in June last year, which had ruled that the development could continue.

Their judgment found that “strong findings were made by the senior judge on the issues which were successfully challenged”.

The verdict means the project will return to the Planning and Environment Court for review.

The decision “sends a message to the developers”

The Yaroomba Beach development proposal was approved by the Sunshine Coast Council in a six to five vote in June 2018.

There were 9,288 bids against and nearly 3,000 in favour.

Lady of Justice statue outside the Supreme and District Courts buildings in Brisbane.
The verdict means the project will return to the Planning and Environment Court for review.(ABC News: Brendan Mounter)

The development offered a new seven-story five-star hotel as well as 753 residential apartments, 98 two- to three-story houses and a shopping village.

The council argued at the time that its approval was “the type of investment the Sunshine Coast economy needs, as the comprehensive development will support the local building and construction industry while providing future jobs to residents.

The Sunshine Coast Council imposed nearly 250 conditions on the project when it was initially approved.

Ms Hyman said it was a victory for democracy and sent a clear message to the board and developers.

“There were points of law that weren’t addressed and the courts recognized that,” she said.

“That’s the document that provides the community’s expectations for development, and that’s all we asked for.”

In a statement, Sekisui House said it would consider its options in response to the Court of Appeal’s decision.

Project director Evan Aldridge said the options open to Sekisui House were to continue the process through the planning and environmental tribunal, or to develop the site under the alternative Hyatt approval. of 2009 for a closed residential apartment and a housing estate with buildings up to four floors.

“Given the previous approval issued by the Sunshine Coast Council in June 2018 and the subsequent decision by the Planning and Environment Tribunal in June 2020 to uphold the approval, we are disappointed with the decision of the court.” he said.’

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