Light rail could open up new opportunities for higher density, more affordable housing on the Coast.
Light rail could open up new opportunities for higher density, more affordable housing on the Coast.

Coast may allow higher buildings, more intense development

THE Sunshine Coast may allow even higher buildings in its planned $6 billion CBD and more intensive development along the $2 billion light rail system corridor.

Mayor Mark Jamieson, speaking at a Property Council luncheon at Kawana, said the Maroochydore CBD  and light rail corridor - both set well back from the beach - offered opportunities to tackle housing affordability.

The new city centre could accommodate up to 75,000sqm of retail floor space, 165,000sqm of commercial floor space, around 2,000 new residences, major transport infrastructure, civic buildings plus significant areas of public open space.

Currently, maximum building heights for the area range from six storeys (approx. 25m) up to 15 storeys (approx.
50m). Opportunities also exist on a number of key sites for iconic building up to 20 or 25 storeys.

The council hopes the first stage of the light rail, between Maroochydore and Kawana, could start between by 2025.

Mr Jamieson said ultimately it could run from Beerwah to the Sunshine Coast Airport, taking in some of the Caboolture to Maroochydore rail corridor route before coming in closer to the Nicklin Way.

Maroochydore Revitalisation Association president James Birrell recently told the Daily about 100,000 to 200,000 extra people could be accommodated along a major transport route.

The Coast's population is expected to grow to 500,000 by 2031.

Mr Jamieson said there may be 'some high density' development along the route, and in the CBD over the next 20 years.

But he said the council had no plans to be like the Gold Coast with high rise on the beach.

He said the council would not kill 'the golden goose' that brought most people to the Coast - its natural environment and lifestyle.

But he said small lot developments like those at Bells Reach, near Caloundra, had allowed people who never would have been able to own a home to buy one.

Mayor Jamieson was joined by federal MP Ted O'Brien and state MP Fiona Simpson at the third annual Collaborating for the Sunshine Coast lunch in front of about 100 guests.

They answered questions on the Sunshine Coast solar farm, the $1.8 billion Kawana Hospital, plans for an international airport, employment, and Pauline Hanson's visit to the Coast.

Mr Jamieson said he was proudest of the fact that since his council had come in on the promise of new jobs and restoring business confidence, youth unemployment in the region was now below the state average.

But he said the Coast was only in the "very early stage" of a big picture plan which would create higher paid jobs for young people in areas such as health, aviation, innovation and clean tech industries.

Mr O'Brien said the Coast economy must not be overly reliant on population growth and tourism, but diversify.

And he said the Coast must go "as one" when lobbying for funding for projects in Brisbane and Canberra. He said already he, Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace and Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien were meeting with Ministers as one.

"If I you go hunting as a pack it's not surprising you get a better outcome,'' Mr Jamieson said, adding that he considered himself a businessman willing to work with both sides of politics.

Ms Simpson said she it was important the Coast, including the business community, put up strong cases for projects it was pitching at state and federal government for funding in the way Townsville Enterprise, for example, did.

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