Our rapid urban growth, habitat loss, traffic jams and over-flowing car parks has meant we have had to draw a line in the sand and plan for growth on our terms. We live in a great part of Australia that has an enviable climate, great beaches, is in close proximity to Brisbane and Fraser Island, and has a friendly and laid back lifestyle.
I put it to Council that we had to raise the bar, so that we either had no new green-field development or that, if we allowed it, it had to bring with it significant environmental and infrastructure benefits, so great that we would be better off by having the development than not. I was successful in gaining Council support for new policies to achieve this.
Innovative new policies
The first new policy was what I called the 70/30 policy where about 70% of a development is set aside for rehabilitation and revegetated over a 10 year period at the developer’s expense, with Council as trustee of the sanctuary. The purpose of this is to rectify the loss of pre-settlement habitat.
In most cases, our early settlers cleared too much for agriculture. The bottom line for developers who own rural land with no development rights is that they can now develop 30% of their holding.
The second policy was for them to provide their own water and recycle it. Council is not going to provide water or dispose of their effluent. Should, after implementing water sensitive urban design, they are still short of water they can, at their expense, retrofit existing communities with rainwater tanks and other features, thereby reducing consumption equivalent to the volume of water they require. To this effect, we achieve ‘a no net loss of existing capacity’. The new development will be self-sufficient and ends the need to build new dams. It also means the developers don’t have to pay headwork’s charges.
The State Government still hasn’t grasped this sustainable philosophy, yet as they are obsessed with taking over our water infrastructure on the Sunshine Coast to send it to Brisbane and the SEQ council’s who failed to plan for drought and self-sufficient growth.
The third new policy is that we are requiring public transport infrastructure and rolling stock to be in place prior to settlement in green field growth areas. This will reduce the dependency on cars.
If developers don’t want to comply, they can simply accept the land is rural, has no development rights and continue to farm for forestry or agriculture. These three policy initiatives have been adopted by our Council which is amalgamating with Maroochy and Noosa in March 2008.
I am currently working on a new policy that allows car parking contributions to fund electric trams and their operation to reduce carpark dependency. Details of the Local Growth Management Plan can be found at www.caloundra.qld.gov.au