By Margaret Maccoll
Noosa Council looked set to refuse the application to build an exclusive wave pool and retreat on Beach Road, Noosa North Shore at their Ordinary Meeting on Thursday after the majority of councillors voted against it at Monday’s General Committee meeting.
Even keen surfer Councillor Tom Wegener who supported the project last week voted against Teatree Property’s application for a retreat able to accommodate up to 12 people and the exclusive use of a 4000sqm wave pool.
Cr Wegener said he was initially excited about the project which would provide surfers with a place they were sure to score a wave but after reading the application he saw cracks appearing in the reasoning behind it.
He said concreting over an acre of land to construct the wave pool did not fit with the Noosa Plan’s aim to encourage tourism based on natural assets and he questioned its benefit in raising the standard of living for Noosa residents.
“I don’t expect any of us would make it into the wave pool,“ he said.
Council heard recent information from the applicant that the wave pool would require an estimated 5700 kilolitres of water that would not be filled by trucked water but would be filled with rainwater with a bund or containment area to be constructed to assist its collection.
Questions remained on the treatment of water entering the pool and waste dispersal but Council were told waste water would not be dispersed at the region’s effluent disposal area nor be treated at the tertiary treatment plant.
The proposed application has only attracted one objection locally relating to easement access which council found unjustified.
Cr Brian Stockwell questioned whether the project was the right development in the right location.
He raised the significance of Noosa North Shores’s natural assets, its rare and vulnerable flora and fauna.
He said the region was defined by the state government as an area of state biodiversity that had been protected by generations through careful planning and he talked about the long history of connection between the surf culture and the protection of the environment.
But not all councillors opposed the development project.
Cr Amelia Lorentson discussed the attributes of the project, saying the wave pool was no bigger than dams on farms in the Noosa region and could not be seen from the road. She said the world first exclusive wave pool retreat would attract high-paying customers who would “spend big“ in the Noosa economy.
Mayor Clare Stewart said as a surfers’ retreat it was consistent with the zoning and the pool was “large but not obtrusive“.
Cr Stewart likened the project to Makepeace Island that the community was happy to approve and attracted a high-paying clientele. She said at this time she must think of jobs created and benefits to the economy from the project.
Cr Stewart revealed that she like other councillors had received an email prior to the meeting from a source she did not name to say councillors had been elected to protect the environment and to support this project would be a betrayal of their position. Cr Stewart said a betrayal would be to only listen to certain groups.
Council officers recommended the project be refused because it did not comply with the definition of Visitor Accommodation Type 3 – Rural, and was better defined as a Detached House, whilst the lagoon/wave pool was viewed as a main attraction more appropriately defined as Entertainment and dining business – Type 2 Recreation, amusement and fitness.
Officers determined the application did not comply with the desired outcomes of the Noosa Plan, the Noosa North Shore Locality Code, the Visitor Accommodation Code or the Biodiversity Overlay Code
Council considers: “the proposal relies on built infrastructure as the main attraction to the site, and therefore is not consistent with the desired outcomes for Noosa’s tourism industry set out in The Noosa Plan, which aims to encourage tourism based on Noosa’s natural assets to enhance the understanding of Noosa’s environmental values. The lagoon/wave pool component of the development would result in adverse impacts on the environmental values of the area, with the proposal to clear at least 1.3 hectares of threatened species habitat of high value regrowth vegetation, and potential to pollute a wetland with high ecological values through the disposal of waste water. The proposal also requires significant excavation of an area affected by acid sulfate soils”.
The future of the project rests on the councillors vote at its Ordinary Meeting on Thursday evening.