SEQ Regional Plan gets thumbs up but Sunshine Coast needs vital public transport infrastructure
  • Friday 11 August 2017

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson welcomed the release by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad of the South East Queensland (SEQ) Regional Plan, but made it clear that it is vital the Sunshine Coast becomes a focus for critically needed transport infrastructure.


Mayor Jamieson said the SEQ Regional Plan acknowledged and reinforced council’s extensive planning for population growth and it was now up to the State Government to play its role and commit to essential public transport improvements on the Sunshine Coast.


“The new SEQ Regional Plan is very much focussed on growth, prosperity and liveability and I want to commend the Deputy Premier and her department for the collaborative approach they have taken with the SEQ councils in developing this important blueprint for the fastest growing region in Australia”, Mayor Jamieson said.


“This is no easy task, but the collaboration that has occurred around this process needs to be applauded.


“What the new Regional Plan highlights, however, is that the Sunshine Coast will need to accommodate nearly 200,000 more people through to 2041 and that there is critical, region-shaping infrastructure, like public transport services between Maroochydore to Caloundra to Beerwah and upgrades to the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail corridor, that must be a priority.


“The recently released 2016 Census data also demonstrated our population is growing rapidly and our transport infrastructure, which has suffered from decades of underinvestment, must be improved to service not only today’s residents but also the additional 200,000 that will live here in the next 25 years.


“The most critical thing we need now are commitments to bringing our public transport requirements up to the standard that the Sunshine Coast, as one of Australia’s top 10 biggest cities, deserves and requires.


“In the lead-up to the State election, our region requires all political parties to clearly and comprehensively outline their commitment to addressing the Sunshine Coast’s public transport needs.


“The Regional Plan provides the evidence base.


“All of the political parties and their candidates now need to demonstrate they are committed to providing the public transport infrastructure and solutions that the Sunshine Coast needs to prosper and remain Australia’s most sustainable region – healthy, smart and creative.”


Mayor Jamieson said the council’s planning for the region, in partnership with the Queensland Government, had produced some great results for the future of the Sunshine Coast community in the new Regional Plan.


“Importantly the Regional Plan for the first time clearly identifies and maps a large part of the regional inter-urban break straddling the Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast local government areas”, Mayor Jamieson said.


“This has been one of the highest priorities for our council throughout the regional planning process and what has been achieved is an important first step.


“Council welcomes the State Government’s commitment to work with Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast councils to determine the extent of the northern inter-urban break and identify additional means to secure it for the long term.


“Our council and our community wants the inter-urban break preserved in its current scale in perpetuity.


“The inter-urban break helps define Sunshine Coast as distinct from, but connected to, the rest of South East Queensland.


“It helps protect the Pumicestone Passage water quality, provides unique tourism and recreation opportunities for the whole of SEQ, and provides a significant contribution to our economy through valuable agricultural and forestry activities. 


“As an area that is experiencing strong population growth, it has also been important for Council to achieve some clear commitments around where the region’s future growth will be accommodated.


“Following strong and consistent advocacy by council, the Regional Plan moves the site known as Beerwah East into the Urban Footprint – our preferred location for long-term growth.


“In fact, Beerwah East is the only new Major Development Area nominated in the Regional Plan.


“Beerwah East has long been identified by council as its preferred new growth front and will provide key public transport connections and routes and an additional 20,000 dwellings that will help to meet the predicted population growth to 2041 and beyond.


“The SEQ Regional Plan also provides for some growth in smaller townships such as Glasshouse Mountains, Landsborough, Palmwoods, Yandina and Bli Bli.


“For many of these towns, this recognises their suitability for urban growth given they are located on the North Coast Rail Line transport corridor.”


Mayor Jamieson said while the collaborative process with the State Government had been very productive and had reinforced Council’s long-term planning for the Sunshine Coast, Council remained vehemently opposed to the identification of Halls Creek, south of Aura (Caloundra South), as a Potential Future Growth Area.


“We have clearly demonstrated that Halls Creek is not suitable to accommodate urban growth – now or in the future – and we will remain opposed to its development,” he said.


“We do acknowledge however, that it has been ‘downgraded’ somewhat in this Regional Plan and that the plan makes it clear that there is no commitment or implication that all or any part of the site will be made available for urban development in the future.” 


The SEQ Regional Plan also supports the council’s efforts to secure an offshore cable protection zone and landing point for an international broadband submarine cable connection, which would make the Sunshine Coast the first regional centre in Australia to provide direct broadband connectivity to global markets.


The Sunshine Coast Airport is also recognised as an area of regional economic significance.


“Planning for our growth is critical to protecting our coastal lifestyle, our outstanding natural assets, character and identity, ensuring we have employment and economic opportunities for our residents in the future,” he said.


“The new SEQ Regional Plan certainly assists council to achieve its objectives for our region, generate employment and prosperity and ensure our community continues to enjoy the Sunshine Coast we all know and love.”