By Paul Hemsley
Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Council has moved quickly to officially sever ties with its forced-merger bedfellow, Noosa Council, by excluding it from its regional planning scheme after being allowed to decouple by the Campbell Newman government.
The previous Noosa council is scheduled to be resurrected in January 2014 after residents in four areas of Queensland – Noosa, Livingstone, Mareeba and Douglas – voted to reverse deeply unpopular forced council amalgamations in 2008 and have their local government areas restored to their pre-merged status.
The decision to for Noosa and the Sunshine Coast to de-amalgamate was sealed at a referendum in March 2013 with the strong backing of the state government.
However Sunshine Coast Council has responded to the Noosa residents’ choice to leave them by excluding the area from its Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme in what it calls a “commonsense” change to “provide certainty for planning across the region”.
The Noosa area was already integrated in the Planning Scheme released as a draft in December 2012 after the Sunshine Coast Council had created the ‘Noosa Plan’ in 2006 before the amalgamation, which has been offered to the soon-to-be Noosa Council to use for its planning until it comes up with a new plan of its own.
The council claims that splitting Noosa from the Planning Scheme was a unanimous decision by councillors as “the best way forward”.
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said the decision avoids unnecessary hold-ups and double-ups and allows the Sunshine Coast Council to “get on with the job” of creating the right conditions for investment and jobs.
“The Sunshine Coast Council will continue to work towards delivering its new planning scheme, while a new Noosa Council can determine its own future from 1 January 2014,” Mr Jamieson said.
Division 12 Councillor Tony Wellington said it’s a win for both communities.
“This decision will allow both areas to determine their respective futures on planning matters,” Mr Wellington said.
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