Community Reference Group to be established.
On 21 November 2022, the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) announced they are setting up a Community Reference Group (CRG) to help guide the Detailed Business Case (DBC) (the 3rd and final stage) for the Mass Transit Project. (now renamed by TMR to the Sunshine Coast Public Transport (SCPT) project).
This is a welcome move. We have been told by TMR 114 applications were received. These are now being reviewed and a final group of 20 will be announced in early 2023.
We know the Sunshine Coast Regional Council rates light rail as the highest option and are continuing to have dialogue with TMR. This is the Community's chance to also put our view forward. We hope TMR consider residents over developers as they make their selection.
Applications closed midnight December 11, 2022.
Where are we in the Mass Transit Process?
On 20 October last year, the Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) voted to endorse the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Options Analysis Report and to have the CEO advance it to the State Government (TMR) for the preparation of the third and final stage, the Detailed Business Case (DBC). The DBC was budgeted to cost $15million which was to be jointly funded by SCRC and TMR. It was estimated it would be completed by mid to end of 2023.
Since then the following has occured:
$5m of funding has been provided by the Federal Government reducing SCRC and TMR's committment to $5million each.
No Memorandum of Understanding between TMR and the SCRC has been signed.
TMR has expanded the project and renamed it "Sunshine Coast Public Transport" (SCPT) Project
TMR conducted their own public consultation on their 'Draft Southern Sunshine Coast Public Transport Strategy", in March 2022. The results are to be discussed by the Community Reference Group and incorporated into the SCPT Detailed Business Case.
TMR are simultaneously running a $6million study looking at the Camcos Corridor, Beewah to Maroochydore (B2M), expected to be complete early 2023.
TMR has issued two tenders on SCPT project:
a) "Project Management Services Sunshine Coast Public Transport Detailed Business Case 27 May 2022, and
b) Business Case Management Services for the Sunshine Coast Public Transport Project Oct 2022.
7. Despite having already spent over $12 million on the project and committed a further $5million on funding for the DBC, the SCRC has gone silent on the project, with minimal updates to the Council's website and no Community updates given.
In November, MTAG wrote to the CEO of the SCRC requesting updates on all of the above. SCRC failed to respond to any of our questions instead saying "Your questions about the SCPT project should be directed to DTMR".
MTAG has subsequently forward the same questions to TMR and will share their response when we receive it.
MTAG has been advised that the SCPT project is now running well behind the timing the SCRC originally proposed. Estimated completion of the Detailed Business Case (orginally mid to late 2022) is now estimated to be in 2024. Implementation timing after that is unknown.
The creation of the Community Reference Group on the SCPT Project by TMR is a good thing and signals things are beginning to get underway again.
Sunshine Coast New 2024 Planning Scheme
Preliminary Public consultation on the SCRC new Planning Scheme for the region occurred in March 2022.
Results were finally released in September 2022. Council said this was their "largest and most successful engagement project.”
Over 8000 people provided feedback. In particular there were over 6,000 surveys completed and a further 375 written submissions. The feedback report makes it clear, the community did not support Council’s proposed densification along the Mass Transit Corridor.
There was a very clear message delivered to Council re concerns about building heights, increasing densities, parking and maintaining the character and feel of what exists today.
In their report, SCRC state:
“Issues and concerns raised will be carefully considered in drafting the local plan area provisions, allocating zones and nominating maximum allowable building heights in different localities, particularly in relation to:
• potential increases in density or height along key corridors and urban villages (or nodes) in the Kawana Waters and Mooloolaba–Alexandra Headland local plan areas.
• possible areas for additional low-medium density residential development in Beerwah – Landsborough, Coolum – Peregian, Mooloolaba – Alexandra Headland, Mooloolah Valley and North Shore local plan areas."
MTAG would like to congratulate everyone who participated in this consultation. It is an example of how collectively we can effectively deliver a clear message to Council and hopefully have Council reflect this thinking in the planning for our future.
Summary of Feedback
Top five planning priorities:
-Protecting the natural environment and green spaces
-Maintaining building heights within set limits
-Improving our region’s resilience to climate change
-Retaining local character
-Providing parks and open space.
Top eight community concerns:
-Potential increases in density or building height along key transport corridors in the coastal corridor between Maroochydore and Caloundra, particularly in the Kawana Waters and Mooloolaba – Alexandra Headland local plan areas
-Potential areas for additional low-medium density residential development (duplexes and town houses) within some existing suburbs
-Conversion of some rural residential or rural land to urban residential uses
-Resilience to flooding
-Improving design outcomes
-Preserving the character and identity of each of our local communities
-Maintaining existing larger urban and rural residential lot sizes to preserve local character
-Traffic congestion and parking associated with growth and change.
What’s Next in Council's Process?
Council is currently at Step 3 in the process as shown below.
Council was not obligated to undertake this initial consultation (step 2) so it is even more encouraging to see such a large number of people respond and take the opportunity to have input at this early stage.
The messages were clear. Hopefully Council will listen and modify their thinking to reflect what they have been told when preparing the draft new scheme.
The next time we will get to have a say is in Step 5 which is anticipated to be sometime in 2023.
MTAG will continue to monitor the progress and let people know when and how they can participate in the future