Project appeal heats up as developer changes conditions
New conditions for a beachfront apartment development have failed to convince a Sunshine Coast group that the project would not harm nesting turtles.
Sunshine Coast Council last month approved minor changes to conditions on Pacific Diamond 88's 73-apartment Buddina beachfront project, which were put forward by the developer.
Developer Rob Scott said it would reduce the impact on nesting turtles and increase compliance requirements surrounding light glow on the beach.
But Friends of Buddina, the group spearheading an appeal against the council's approval of the project, were critical whether the changes were sufficient to help protect nesting turtles.
"This does appear to have been a deliberate action by the developer to change the approval conditions and therefore disrupt the legal action and ultimately our legal costs will increase," group member Lesley Dimmock said.
"Nevertheless, in reviewing these recent changes to the approval conditions, we'll consider all the changes in particular where these appear to fail to remove some of the original ambiguities and appear to have weakened other conditions."
She said they would need to change the wording of their appeal, which was based on the former conditions.
The seven-storey development is proposed to be built across six residential blocks on Iluka Ave and Talinga St.
It would replace five two-storey homes.
Turtle nesting data shows a quarter of Sunshine Coast's reported nests are recorded at Buddina Beach.
Friends of Buddina have long argued the development breached the Planning Scheme; its lighting would impact the nearby endangered loggerhead turtles' nesting population; and the building height and coverage would impact neighbours' views, vistas and privacy.
Mr Scott rejected the claim that the new conditions reduced protections for the turtles.
As part of the changed conditions, automated blinds will close at 8pm for eight months of the year for turtle nesting season, all windows and doors will be tinted and the developer would be required to complete surveys to monitor artificial light before and after the apartments are built.
"We have at great expense, agreed to install automatic blinds and window tints that reduce light spill to a level far beyond the requirement of the current State Government produced Sea Turtle Sensitive Area Code, which required window tinting or blinds … we are doing both," Mr Scott said.
Ms Dimmock said the development conditions required less stringent protections for nesting turtles than Sekisui House's Yaroomba project, despite the Buddina site being closer to the sand dunes.
She said the development should be required to have no visible light from the beach.
"Although some improvements were evident (and we are grateful for those), other changes appear to have diluted existing conditions," Ms Dimmock said.
Mr Scott said the company had taken on-board all public feedback in its review of the conditions.
"From the beginning I have employed the best consultants in the country on traffic, town planning, turtles and turtle lighting to not only ensure compliance with regulations but also to enhance the environment," he said.
"I am of the view that Friends of Buddina's purpose in taking these actions is simply to stop further development along the Buddina beachfront.
"If this was really about the turtles, they would have campaigned long ago against the unleashed dogs allowed on the beach, which are known to eat the baby turtles."
Mr Scott said they were thankful for community support and that over 30 per cent of apartments had already sold, mostly to buyers who live within three kilometres of the site.
A review of the court appeal will be held in the Planning and Environment Court on August 21.