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Decision on resort application postponed for the second time

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The future of Noosa’s first new resort in almost 30 years remains uncertain with a council decision on the application once again postponed.

An application for a resort at Noosa Springs has been heavily discussed by councillors and the community since it was first lodged in 2021.

The developer and owner of Noosa Springs, GH Australia, has proposed to build a 106-room five-star hotel on its property at Resort Drive, Noosa Heads.

Over the course of the application concerns have been raised over the proposed resort’s proximity to a nearby sewage plant, vegetation clearing and inconsistencies with the Noosa Plan.

The applicant has made changes to its original plans based on council advice, and in July last year council staff recommended the resort for approval.

However, councillors expressed their concerns and were apprehensive to give the green light to the $50m project.

A proposed five-star resort at Noosa Springs.

Prior to the anticipated rejection at the following ordinary meeting, GH Properties requested to halt the decision-making process, as is allowed under the Planning Act, and the matter was withdrawn from the meeting agenda.

In a letter to Noosa councillors in October 2023, GH Properties director Ellen Guan stated: “We wanted time to gather additional information, seek the views of residents, discuss the effects of the proposed hotel with key stakeholders and, hopefully, persuade you to approve the hotel development.”

The matter was tabled again at the June 11 Planning and Environment Committee meeting where it was once more recommended for approval by development staff.

But the councillors maintained their previous stance to object the resort and the motion was moved to the following general meeting for further discussion.

The blue line represents the odour line from the nearby sewage treatment plant. The aqua shading represents the Open Space Recreation Zone, while the orange represents the Tourist Accommodation Zone.

During the committee meeting Unitywater’s customer delivery executive manager Rhett Duncan made a deputation reinforcing the water provider’s opposition to the project.

He said while Unitywater supported a development of that nature, it had a “very clear” position against the hotel’s proposed location.

“Our opposition to the proposed location has not changed,” Mr Duncan said.

“In fact, it is stronger than before as a result to changes to the Environmental Protection Act.”

Passed in State Parliament on June 11, the updated act allows the environmental regulator to apply a broader range of enforcement tools and stronger penalties for persistent issues, such as odour impacts.

Mr Duncan once again referred to the development being located within about 200 metres of the Noosa Wastewater Treatment Plant and that if the development were to be approved, Unitywater could be required to install odour control equipment.

He referred to a similar situation at Murrumba Downs in 2010 that cost $38m to install.

“That could cost Unitywater, Noosa Council and Noosa residents millions of dollars,” he said.

The proposed site plan for the new resort, that will sit alongside the current Noosa Springs complex.

However, development assessment manager Patrick Murphy maintained the proposed accommodation buildings were outside the odour buffer zone, with only part of the outdoor recreation space within the area of concern.

He said the applicant had provided an odour report that had been reviewed by council’s external consultant, who had agreed the location of the buildings were acceptable.

Related story: Lawyers push for approval of five-star hotel

The discussion at the June 11 meeting has resulted in another request from the developer to extend the decision-making period.

During the June general committee meeting, development and regulation director Richard MacGillivray said the applicant had put forward a request for a deferral decision on its application.

“The applicant has committed to undertake some further actions including investigation and consideration to further changes to the proposal in light of the proposed reasons for refusal put forward in the general committee report last year, and to undertake further community engagement and consultation with other relative stakeholder,” he said.

“They have requested the deferral of the decision to a future meeting date.”

Councillors unanimously carried a motion to defer the matter to a future meeting round.

In a closing statement Councillor Amelia Lorentson said she hoped all parties could work together to ensure an appropriate outcome.

“I hope the applicant is genuine in their commitment to working collaboratively with the community, Unitywater and the council to address the concerns that were raised as grounds for refusal,” she said.

“I also hope that our community (and) Unitywater will also genuinely commit to working with the applicant, and I hope we can engage in meaningful negotiations to reach a mutually beneficial outcome rather than resorting to court proceedings.

“A new hotel in Noosa is desired and it is needed but it has to be built so that it does not negatively impact on the lives of our residents and meets community expectations and values.”

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