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Judge dismisses 246-unit retirement village after lengthy court appeal

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Plans for a 246-unit retirement village have been quashed after a four-year appeals process.

A Planning and Environment Court judge has dismissed the case, ultimately refusing the proposed GemLife Cooroy development.

The retirement village was proposed for an 11.08-hectare site at 144 Myall Street, which adjoins the existing 18-hole Cooroy Golf Club.

Noosa Council initially rejected plans for the retirement village in March 2021, before the developer appealed to the court in April that year.

In February 2023 the developer, GTH Project No.4 Pty Ltd, lodged a Minor Change Application in a last-ditch effort to have the project approved.

Related story: Court to decide on retirement resort plan

While some of the Cooroy Golf Club members were in favour of the development as a way to future-proof the club, many residents echoed the council’s decision to refuse the application, leading to the Cooroy Area Residents Association to join as a co-respondent for the appeal.

In a verdict delivered on May 30, Judge Nicole Kefford ordered the appeal be dismissed.

“The development application seeking a development permit for making a material change of use and a development permit for reconfiguration of lots is refused,” she said.

GemLife Cooroy had proposed more than 200 homes as part of the development.

Noosa Council welcomed the verdict upholding its 2021 decision.

Planning and regulation director Richard MacGillivray said the decision ensured Cooroy’s character was protected, with the site currently zoned for Open Space Recreation and Rural Residential.

“The proposal would have resulted in a high-density residential development outside the urban growth boundary on land set aside as green space,” Mr MacGillivray said.

Planning staff had recommended refusal of the GemLife application citing significant conflicts with the planning scheme, and council was unanimous in its decision on March 18, 2021, to refuse the application.

The proposed site for GemLife Cooroy.

“We were concerned the development, had it gone ahead, would have adversely impacted on the site’s environmental values and the visual amenity of the entrance to Cooroy, plus resulted in several poor built form, design and amenity outcomes,” Mr MacGillivray said.

“Pleasingly, the court agreed that the proposal conflicted with council’s planning strategy to preclude urban development on the subject land.

Related story: Woolies submits plans for major supermarket development

“Noosa Council places high value on open space, recreational and rural lands, and we’re pleased the court has again recognised our consistent record of making planning decisions that uphold our planning scheme.

“Noosa Council is grateful for the support from the Cooroy Area Residents Association who were co-respondents and locked arms with council throughout the appeal.”

CARA president Rod Ritchie told Sunshine Coast News the organisation was pleased with the outcome for the town and wider Cooroy area.

“The adverse impacts of the high-density residential estate on our small rural town would be contrary to the reasonable expectations of the Cooroy residents,” Mr Ritchie said.

“This decision further reinforces protection of the Lake Macdonald catchment area.

“CARA is pleased Noosa Council has consistently strenuously and successfully defended its Noosa Plans in the Planning and Environment Court.”

GemLife was contacted for comment.

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor at Sunshine Coast News via news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. You must include your name and suburb.

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