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Sunshine Coast tears up the rule book with new planning scheme

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One of Queensland’s fastest growing regions has embarked on a major review of its future development in a move aimed at rejecting continued urban sprawl and accommodating most of the 87,000 new homes it needs over the next 20 years in existing residential areas.

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Sunshine Coast Council has taken the first steps toward drawing up a new planning scheme which will dictate where to house new residents and how they will move around the region.

The review signals a significant step away from past planning practices on the Sunshine Coast and comes at a time when the council is dealing with potentially explosive growth. Official forecasts say an extra 200,000 people or more will call it home over the next 20 years.

The new scheme is likely to include a finalised plan and corridor for a light rail or rapid bus system stretching from the Sunshine Coast University Hospital at Kawana to the region’s new purpose-built CBD at Maroochydore.

The council has described the proposed system as the “backbone” of any future public transport options for the region but the plan is vehemently opposed by some community groups who see it as a means of entrenching high density development along its route.

The council will begin formal public consultation on the mass transit business in February.

While the existing planning scheme has been amended several times since it was adopted in 2014, council officers are urging the council to vote to replace when it meets for the first time in 2021 next week. If it does opt to produce a new plan the project is likely to stretch over four years.

A report to council says that while the current scheme is working well, state planning horizons now stretched out until 2041, 10 years later than the timeline that council has adopted.

“There is a need to improve and strengthen alignment with recent State, regional and local planning policy changes,” the report said.

The South East Queensland Regional Plan, which influences the shape of individual council planning schemes, insists that of the 87,000 new homes needed to accommodate the Sunshine Coast’s population growth over the next 20 years, just 38 per cent should be delivered through creating new “greenfield” sites.

Most _ nearly 54,000 _ will have to be accommodated within the Sunshine Coast’s existing urban footprint.

The report to council says the new planning scheme “will need to have an increased focus on urban consolidation (and in particular consolidation done well and at the right locations) as opposed to continued urban expansion”.

Any new planning scheme for the Sunshine Coast will not cover so-called Priority Development Areas which are controlled by the State Government.

There are two PDAs in Any new planning scheme for the Sunshine Coast will not cover some significant area dubbed Priority Development Areas which are controlled by the State Government. There are currently two PDAs in the region – the massive Caloundra South urban development which will eventually have 20,000 homes and the Maroochydore City Centre development.

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