At its simplest, the fight is over a potential 1200ha of housing at Halls Creek or the green ring that currently exists between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. This inter-urban break has broad community support on the coast and the council wants it to be protected in perpetuity through State Government legislation.
The council has concerns about its impact on the Pumicestone passage and RAMSAR wetlands. It’s a fight not unlike that at Toondah Harbour, Cleveland, which is also waiting for a Federal Government decision.
But Stockland’s application also comes in the middle of a housing crisis when politicians would have to justify rejecting it when there was such an obvious need. There is no estimate on the number of houses Halls Creek would provide, but 10,000 is a figure often used.
However, Mayor Mark Jamieson said Stockland still has a massive area at Aura, previously known as Caloundra South, and the proposal for the Halls Creek (also known as Aura South) area was at least a decade away.
“We don’t want that land to be brick and tile roofs into the future,” Jamieson said.
He is rallying the community to write submissions to the Federal Government opposing the Halls Creek project, but expects the battle to heat up among local MPs and the lobbying intense.
The mayor, an independent, is often at odds with the coast’s local MPs.
“We would urge any other residents on the Sunshine Coast to take the opportunity to make a submission to the EPBC, the Commonwealth Government, telling them that they don’t believe that land should be developed and should be retained as part of the Glasshouse-Pumicestone inter-urban break,” he said.
“We have made our position clear to Stockland and I have no doubt they will be lobbying the State Government, they will be lobbying the Federal Government. We will probably see Government and Opposition MPs come out and complain about it, not that they have been able to find any solutions themselves.”
He said he had been on council for 12 years during which there was strong opposition to the Halls Creek proposal. Before that had also been rejected by the Caloundra Council.
Stockland said the site was a substantially cleared former pine plantation landholding spanning 1231 hectares.
Stockland senior environment and community development manager Mark Stephens said large parts of Aura South were cleared for forestry activities around 50 years ago and are now primarily used for grazing purposes. Extensive environmental investigations have been undertaken on the site for over 15 years which has informed the application Stockland has submitted to the Federal Government.
“We have submitted a balanced and sustainable proposal which will ensure environmental protections are secured in advance of any future detailed planning. The EPBC is a rigorous and scientific-based assessment that includes several opportunities for the community to have their say,” Stephens said.
He said the land was “highly suitable” to be considered for development, given it is elevated, largely flood free and can leverage the significant investment undertaken by the State Government for roads, schools, as well as taking advantage of the existing amenities in the neighbouring suburb of Aura.
The Aura South site is located approximately 1.5 kilometres north of the ShapingSEQ Regional Inter-Urban Break – a 16-kilometre green buffer separating the urban areas of Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast.
“We recognise the Inter-Urban Break, which is identified in the 2017 SEQ Regional Plan, and the Aura South proposal does not impact upon this in any way. Stockland’s application proposes to establish a regenerated natural buffer zone on the southern side, which has an ability to increase the inter-urban break in the future should Aura South be supported,” Stephens said.
If approved for future development, more than 400ha – one-third of the Aura South site – was planned to be rehabilitated, which will restore environmental values lost during the forestry era, including the reintroduction of native plant species. Studies conducted over the past decade have not detected any koalas or migratory birds on the land.
As part of the EPBC submission, Stockland has committed to protect the Pumicestone Passage with enhanced buffers to ensure water quality is protected. Aura South does not have any coastal, river or creek frontage and the potential future development area is located more than three kilometres west of the Pumicestone Passage.