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Noosa Council decide on proposed solution to the region's housing affordability

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A village designed to “provide an immediate contribution to addressing the housing affordability crisis” has received pushback on its application.

The proposed development is intended to deliver accommodation for low-income workers and families, plus vulnerable members of the community and those facing domestic violence situations.

It would include 32 dwellings at 55 and 70 Carpenters Road, Cooroy, some that would be gifted to not-for-profit community housing providers such as St Vincent De Paul Society and Coast2Bay.

An application was first lodged to Noosa Council in March 2022, which has resulted in an extensive process including requests for further information and a notification period.

However, council’s acting planning coordinator has recommended the development be refused.

The application, lodged by Brennan Planning on behalf of its client Eco Cottages, seeks a Material Change of Use of Premises for a Relocatable Home Park (Community and Affordable Housing).

In its town planning assessment report, Brennan Planning outlined how the concept would address the housing crisis in the Noosa area.

“The development is a new concept for a bona-fide community and affordable housing development that involves partnering with not-for profit community housing providers to deliver community and affordable housing opportunities,” it stated.

“The Noosa Plan 2020 does not currently recognise or provide adequate land use definitions for either community or affordable housing.

“The proposed development would offer an innovative model for delivering affordable housing in the shire.”

55 Carpenters Road, Cooroy. Aerial imagery by Nearmap.

The village would include 13 two-bedroom dwellings and 19 one-bedroom dwellings, with an existing four-bedroom house already at the site to be converted to a community facility.

The dwellings are all proposed to be constructed on 55 Carpenters Road, with access to the dwellings via 70 Carpenters Road, which is council-owned land.

Each home would be prefabricated by Eco Cottages at its factory at Jarrah Street, Cooroy.

Several organisations have formally submitted letters of support for the proposed development, including St Vincent de Paul, Coast2Bay and Noosa District State High School, as well as Member for Nicklin Robert Skelton.

St Vincent de Paul northern region diocesan president John Harrison expressed in his letter that the organisation would be interested in acquiring a selection of dwellings.

“The St Vincent de Paul Society currently manages approximately 500 units of housing in Queensland through its housing subsidiary,” Mr Harrison said.

“The society intends to double its supply of community housing over the next five years, primarily through the development of new dwellings.

“Based on a very high-level assessment, the proposed development at Cooroy would suit the society’s community housing needs.”

A proposed two-bedroom dwelling for an affordable housing project at Cooroy.

During a 15-day public notification period in October 2022, 322 submissions were made to Noosa Council. Of these submissions, 11 objected to the application.

Despite the overwhelming community support, several issues have been outlined with the proposed development, mainly due to conflicts identified with the Noosa Plan 2020 and Noosa Housing Strategy 2022.

The reasoning was outlined in a 26-page acting planning coordinator’s report.

“It is concluded that the proposed development raises multiple conflicts with the Noosa Plan 2020 across all levels of the scheme,” the report outlined.

“While the concept is not without merit as it seeks to provide a commendable response to the housing crisis, the land is not suitable for the proposed development.

“The land has poor accessibility, is constrained by bushfire and adjoins industrial land with odour and impacts from the surrounding area of concern.

“The proposal also needs to provide its own infrastructure and, requires significant works to make development ready.

“The design, layout and intensity of the proposal does not integrate sensitively with the existing local character and community with the intense urban development having limited screening and out of character with the area.

“The applicant has also not satisfactorily demonstrated that the site will be retained for affordable housing for an appropriate period.

“It is therefore recommended that the application be refused.”

However, at the General Committee Meeting on August 14, Councillor Amelia Lorentson moved a motion that there were sufficient ‘other relevant matters’ to warrant approval of the development, particularly its position to provide community and affordable housing.

Mayor Clare Stewart seconded the motion, however the remaining councillors voted against it.

The aerial imagery in this story is from Australian location intelligence company Nearmap. The company provides government organisations, architectural, construction and engineering firms, and other companies, with easy, instant access to high-resolution aerial imagery, city-scale 3D content, artificial intelligence data sets, and geospatial tools to assist with urban planning, monitoring and development projects in Australia, New Zealand and North America.

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