Council will charge you $14,500 to see Sekisui papers

SUNSHINE Coast Council's engagement with Sekisui House about its non-town-plan-compliant proposal for beachfront land at Yaroomba has generated more than 52,000 pages of documents before a formal development application has been lodged.

Coolum community group Development Watch has been floored by the $14,500 bill council says it would charge for access to those documents under Right to Information legislation.

Sekisui House proposes the construction of 17 buildings on the site, 15 of which are in excess of the new town plan.

Should Council waive the charges for access to the Sekisui documents?

This poll ended on 14 February 2016.

Current Results

Yes. We have the right to know how our community will be affected.

77%

Yes. The charges seem unrealistic.

12%

No. It costs what it costs.

8%

No. I'd rather it be kept secret.

1%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Mayor Mark Jamieson has promoted planning scheme changes to accommodate the project, sparking widespread community protest.

Development Watch spokesperson Marian Kroon said it had sought Right to Information access because of community concerns about the level of secrecy surrounding the proposal.

"We were absolutely astounded by the volume of documentation that council identified relating to the Sekisui proposed development. Over 52,000 pages are floating around the system at council," she said.

"This suggests a level of involvement by council with a development proposal well outside of the usual development assessment process and well in excess of community expectations. This is not an arm's-length approach."

STARTING EARLY: Kaleb Ward, of Yaroomba, during a protest against the Sekisui proposal.
STARTING EARLY: Kaleb Ward, of Yaroomba, during a protest against the Sekisui proposal. Iain Curry

Ms Kroon said the significant cost in accessing the documents put them beyond the reach of ratepayers or community groups.

"The fee regime is set out in the Right to Information Regulation 2009 (Part 3)," she said.

"If the application takes more than five hours to process then the charge is $6.70 per 15 minutes. Council has estimated that there would be more than 540 hours of work involved to process the application.

"Even when we reduced the scope in an effort to reduce costs, we were going to be charged over $4500."

Development Watch has withdrawn its application and is now encouraging other community groups to seek the release of key documents.


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