By Margaret Maccoll
Noosa councillor Tom Wegener warned he may become a bit animated when he stood to address Monday’s General Meeting to object to the approval of minor changes to Bistro C Restaurant on Hastings Street.
Cr Wegener took councillors on a journey to the beach to describe the scene walking along the boardwalk on beautiful Main Beach before you reach the restaurant.
Then you see a menu concreted into the wall, you see astro turf with signs saying to stay off the grass, you see dining tables that have never been approved for dining, then you see an enormous structure that’s never been approved by council, he said.
“I think of all the years people have put in fighting to maintain the integrity of the National Park … that’s the Noosa way,” he said. “This is not the amenity Noosa stands for. You see the signs – you think of all the businesses made to take down their signs. I’ve been forced off this grass by the signs.”
Cr Wegener said it was council’s job to uphold the town plan and build a level playing field.
“Bistro C is not a special case,” he said.
He also questioned council’s responsibilities in approving a development in an area where waves have been known to inundate.
Council staff told the meeting many of Hastings Street developments had been approved under old planning schemes and what was relevant in this instance was the existing development in Hastings Street and whether this one looked out of place.
Staff said other developments along Main Beach intruded on to public land, were built to the boundary or intruded into the 10m setback.
“Bistro C is not the exception and does not look out of place, that’s why staff have recommended approval. There are a lot of properties council has given permission to retrospectively.”
The application for a “minor change to development approval” submitted to council by restaurant owner Lorri Banks seeks to replace and refurbish the existing enclosed dining structure facing Main Beach and outdoor dining area. The changes seek a “retrospective approval” for the area currently being used without council approval. The application also includes a payment to council of a contribution in lieu of a shortfall of one onsite car parking space.
Cr Amelia Lorentson defended the application and restaurant owner Lorri Banks, describing Bistro C as “an institution” in Noosa.
Dr Lorentson said Ms Banks had built up an international reputation for the restaurant that provided good food, great service and had employed generations of locals.
She said she was angry at recent criticism levelled at Ms Banks on social media and called on council to show compassion and flexibility to support small business.
“The hospitality industry needs our support,” she said.
“The is a time to step up and support businesss that have supported out community.”
Cr Brian Stockwell pointed out that council could only deal with the application not the business owner.
Cr Frank Wilkie said he believed the result of the development would be an improvement on what was there. He said all outdoor dining was on body corporate land and an application was being lodged. “This is the correct process,” he said.
Councillors called for more information from council staff before a decision would be made at council’s Ordinary Meeting on Thursday evening.