The outline of the area affected by the proposed 338-unit development at Alexandra Headland.
The outline of the area affected by the proposed 338-unit development at Alexandra Headland.

Fury grows over high-density bid at Alex Headland

RESIDENTS caught by surprise by a proposal to redevelop the Alexandra Park Uniting Church camp and conference centre into a high-density subdivision are furious at the impact they say it will create.

The proposal for 338 two-bedroom units is being assessed under the old Maroochy 2000 Plan, which zones the site mixed housing, rather than the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014 which lists the centre of the property as Community Facilities and the fringing bushland as Environmental Management and Conservation.

The development, which would generate up to 1500 car movements a day, has only one entrance via Mari St onto Alexandra Pde.

Division Four Councillor John Connolly said increased density was inevitable to support a proposed light-rail system to run eventually from the airport to Caloundra.

RELATED: A brief history of The Alex Forest Bushland Park

Residents said, given the amount of growth planned for the Sunshine Coast and the lack of open space that already existed between the Maroochy River and Kawana, the community would be better served by the land being purchased - perhaps by a council/state government partnership - to fill that purpose.

Cr Connolly describes the development as a win for the community, despite it requiring the removal of 1.7ha of what the Maroochy Plan 2000 considered significant vegetation.

The application says revegetation was proposed to "offset the removal of significant vegetation and once established would equate to about 71.2% retention of the total area of 4.49ha of ground-truthed Maroochy Plan 2000 significant vegetation".

The proposal represents the final cut to a vast area of open space coastal bushland that, until the 1970s, stretched from Pacific Tce to Okinja Rd.

However 52% of the site (4.93ha) would be dedicated to the Alex Forest Conservation Park, increasing it to 10.65ha with an additional 1.23ha in lake, wetland and vegetation covenant.

Residents fear the development may ultimately require the activation of a road reserve, currently covered by bushland, which would funnel traffic into quiet Alexandra Headland streets Pakee and Woyin, turning them into through-roads.

Signage placed at the end of Woyin St by the council describes the road reserve as Alex Forest.

Lindsay Hope, a retired surveyor who made the track now popular with locals and tourists as a walkway to the forest, said it had caused confusion as to just where the hard fought for green asset was located.

The proposal by the Uniting Church Property Trust had been on the council's books since August 2015. However, because it was being assessed under the superseded Maroochy 2000 Planning Scheme, which zoned the land mixed housing, an application lodged in November 2015 for a material change of use to multi unit development was code accessible and did not require public notification.

Cr Connolly faced a hostile crown at Alexandra Headland SLSC last week but insists the development represents the best of potential outcomes for the site.

"There will be a lot more meetings before this goes ahead," he said.

"There is a lunatic fringe who think the surf club wants to build a casino and that they will lose all the bush.

"The win is they need to give up a little to get a covenant over the rest. It's church land."

The proposal outlines development of 11 separate precincts over five stages with the last comprising 172 units.

Town planners KHA, now Project Urban, argues that under the Maroochy Plan 2000 an application for 663 two-bedroom units could have been considered.

Development has been proposed over 4.78sq m of three titles comprising 99,501sq m with the remnant bushland being transferred to the council.

The application said the proposal sought to maximise retention of the existing remnant vegetation located adjacent to the southern, western and northern boundaries of the site.

"The retained remnant vegetation will be dedicated to Council as a bushland reserve and will provide communal open space and recreational opportunities," the application stated.

It is proposed the bushland reserve would be "supplemented with landscaping throughout the built form elements of the development and will utilise local endemic native plants that had a low fire risk".

Resident Tony Driscoll said it was time for local and state representatives to stand up and be counted for what the region is and enjoys.

"Tourists always comment on how relaxed the Coast is," he said.

Tony Spinks said while he was all for sensible development, open space needed to be sustained.

What Pakee St resident Kirk Shearer wants to know is why it has taken so long for what is being proposed and may be signed off as early as next month has not been in the public domain given the potential impacts.

"It's about time the council was more accountable for its actions," he said.

"John Connolly says he is speaking to the community. No one knows about it.

"This is secret squirrel stuff. The council should be accountable and they are not. There is nothing wrong with change. Development is fine as long as its sensible development."

Another resident, Brittney Calcott, said the council and community had a responsibility not to leave a concrete jungle for the future.            

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