One of the many questions raised by Redlands2030 about the proposed Shoreline development is:
Why should Council consider a proposal for urban development that is outside the urban footprint in the Redland City planning scheme and the South East Queensland Regional Plan?
The purpose of an urban footprint is to designate land suitable for housing and related facilities. Anyone proposing urban development in other areas such as rural land has to show an overriding need for development in the public interest.
Shoreline’s legal opinion that it is in the urban footprint
Among the great many documents submitted by Shoreline to the Redland City Council is a legal opinion which suggests that Shoreline’s proposed development falls within the urban footprint. The arguments put forward in this opinion appear weak at best, and seem to rely on provisions of the Vegetation Management Act (VMA). This seems an obscure approach and does not get around the fact that the principal head of power for planning comes from the Sustainable Planning Act (SPAct).
Real people might use the well known duck test when considering if the Shoreline land is rural or urban.
if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck
The Council might have saved the community much angst by clarifying this fundamental issue before putting Shoreline to the trouble of submitting its voluminous application for a material change in use. This would have also saved the community considerable effort in reviewing a development application that appears to be based on a doubtful legal foundation.
Questions from the State Government
In this instance the State Government appears to have already determined that Shoreline’s land is a rural duck.
In a request for information the Government has written to Shoreline pointing out (in Item 1):
In this request for information the Government explains the sort of criteria that might demonstrate “overriding public interest”. These include “that the community would experience significant adverse economic, social or environmental impacts” if the proposal “were not to proceed”.
A mountain of reports
The Material Change of Use (MCU) Application of concern is that the community is being asked to respond to the Shoreline development application and its 185 documents within a short time frame. While the amount of information submitted is not the fault of Shoreline the assessment task is huge and Council is abusing community goodwill in not making it easier for the Community to examine the documentation. The information can only be accessed through reading some 185 documents. These documents, provided by the proponent, are extensive and there is no rational order or overall index (see Redlands City Council PD online MCU013287).
It probably “ticks off” legal obligations, but Redland City Council is seemingly hiding behind legalities and voluminous reports in the public exhibition phase. It is an abuse of “due process”. A community faced with a development application of such a massive scale is entitled to have its local council (and their elected representatives) assist and facilitate community consultation.
As always there are some community minded people prepared to persevere and penetrate the arcane document of a big Material Change of Use (see Redlands City Council PD online MCU013287). Redlands2030 appreciates that some people are so minded.
Council’s record on consultation processes is not good
The myriad community concerns about the massive Shoreline development will not surprise anyone. All even remotely involved in the development industry in Redlands, and a broad cohort of the community, know that this proposal could change the City forever.
Shoreline is on the southern edge of Redlands City near the boundary with Logan City. The land is outside the Urban Footprint (designated in the award winning SEQ Regional Plan) and to some commentators it is a classic example of “coastal sprawl”.
Importantly the Shoreline development is at odds with the Redlands 2030 Community Plan, an important record of community values (see why the Community Plan is important). But even more, the strategic intent of the development is bound by the SEQ Plan and the related State Planning Regulatory Provisions.
Given the scale, environmental and economic impacts of major urban development sites (anywhere) the legalities of decision making needs to be sound. But there is growing concern that the Redland City Council is too ready to comply with the wishes of Shoreline’s proponents rather than assessing if this proposal is in the public interest.
A proposed development of this scale should be the subject of extensive community consultation about its costs and benefits to the community. This could be done properly by including the proposal in the draft City Plan 2015 and subjecting it to community consultation next year.
Questions for Council
Has Council obtained legal advice to confirm that Shoreline’s proposed development is not within the established urban footprint?
Why has Council not deferred consideration of the Shoreline proposal until after the City Plan 2015 has been finalised?
Why has Redland City Council not facilitated and informed appropriate community consultation for such a large development proposal?