Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Learning from Noosa; It's All in the {Lsquo}art' of Planning Says Expert

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Learning from Noosa; It's All in the {Lsquo}art' of Planning Says Expert

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Hoffman

THE Sunshine Coast could plan for the future it wanted but the task would be made much more difficult if the state government insisted on arbitrary numbers for growth.

That is the assessment of Paul Summers, the planner who drove the outcomes for which Noosa is so admired across the country.

Sunshine Coast Council in its submission to the draft SEQ regional plan has asked the government to drop the arbitrary requirement to cater for 93,000 new dwellings here by 2031.

Council wants its population to be determined by a thorough assessment of the Coast's carrying capacity which acknowledges the need to preserve and enhance a range of environmental, economic and social values

Summers, who was Noosa's planner from 1987 until 2002, said all was definitely not lost across the rest of the Coast which still retained great character.

He said there was an art and science to good planning.

"Producing the good results in planning relies on good science," Summers said. "But final production of the plan itself was a piece of art. It's been the art that's been missing from planning in Queensland."

He said if the commitments were made under the planning scheme it would be possible to see radical change in the way the future unfolded.

And he argues that while the clock can't be wound back fully, changes could be made to land designations without exposing council and the community to compensation.

Mr Summers said in 1990 then premier Wayne Goss claimed South-east Queensland could grow by a million people and the region could still retain its character.

That mistake had been perpetuated by successive governments that saw planning as being primarily about accommodating exponential growth.

"The two don't naturally go together," he said. "We have to ask if that is the desirable outcome. Ultimately we need a national population debate. The policy is not to talk about it and let us be raped. The debate should not be about population size, it should be about distribution and whether we should have large volumes of people moving out of Sydney and Melbourne.

"Growth was about whether someone could sell a house in Sydney or Melbourne and then come up here and buy a house, a boat and stick money in the bank.

"It was cheap here because there was no infrastructure, there was no tax sharing and we developed a booming growth economy to the point where nothing coped."

Mr Summers said good planning relied on good data sets and really was simple stuff.

He said in essence it was the measurement of three things.

They were the biophysical capacity for the land to support development, what infrastructure should be provided, whether the community could afford to pay for it and when, and thorough community consultation to determine what it wanted as an outcome. …

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