Australia

Friends of Buddina: Council missed the benchmarks

Friends of Buddina has told a court that Sunshine Coast Council wrongly came to the view it had to approve the development of a seven-storey apartment building.

The community group has taken the council and developer Diamond 88 to the Planning and Environment Court after councillors last year voted in favour of the controversial 21m-high, 73-unit building at Iluka Ave and Talinga St, Buddina.

The court heard a statement of reasons provided after council’s original approval of the development stated the council was “required to approve the application” because it complied, or could be conditioned to comply, with all relevant assessment benchmarks.

But barrister Chris McGrath on Thursday argued the council had actually failed to consider assessment benchmarks or misconstrued them.

Friends of Buddina against the Buddina beach development. Photo: Warren Lynam

Friends of Buddina against the Buddina beach development. Photo: Warren Lynam

The Friends of Buddina representative told the court three primary errors in council’s decision related to considerations for beachfront character, views and vistas, and the Coastal Protection Overlay Code.

“Those assessment benchmarks weren’t complied with and (the council) did have a discretion to refuse (the development application),” Dr McGrath said.

A particular concern to the Friends of Buddina is the impact the development could have on loggerhead turtles nesting in the area.

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Dr Mcgath conceded that the council had considered the impact on turtles and recommended particular lighting to minimise the impact.

But he said the council hadn’t “asked itself the right question”.

“Because the assessment benchmark in the Coastal Protection Overlay Code is that the development will maintain or enhance the Coastal ecosystem,” Dr McGrath said.

“So keep it the same or improve it, not minimise the impact.

“If you’re just looking at minimising the impacts, you haven’t started with what is the assessment benchmark.”

Friends of Buddina could not challenge the development’s merits in court because it was code assessable.

The argument instead centred around the council’s compliance with proper town planning processes.

The court will hear from the council and Diamond 88 on Friday before Judge Gary Long deliberates.

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