Claims developer bullying neighbours of $200 million project
A NEIGHBOUR has claimed developer Abacus has used "bully boy" tactics to try and force access to their property to establish underground anchor points for its Brisbane Road carpark redevelopment.
It has been alleged that after owners of the 20 Brisbane Road commercial premises ignored a request to have cranes operate over their property and anchor points drilled under it, they were threatened with Supreme Court legal action by lawyers for the developer Abacus.
The Abacus request had lacked any detail of exactly what was proposed or any offer of compensation.
Mooloolaba property manager Ken Hindmarsh who represented Marvic Nominees Pty Ltd said his clients were fed up with how the development had been handled by the council and Abacus, the callous disregard shown to neighbours and the 'bully-boy' tactics now being employed.
Abacus representative Neil Summerfield said "thanks for the offer to respond but we have no comment to make" in response to questions put by the Sunshine Coast Daily.
Mr Hindmarsh said the owners of 18-20 Brisbane Road understood the importance of the project to Mooloolaba and support the project in principle.
"However the plans as they stand will have a catastrophic effect on their tenants if they have to endure an 80m long, 17.5m (5 storey) high wall extending right out to the Brisbane Road boundary with no setback," he said.
"The owners are requesting that the south east corner of the development be setback by truncation to the existing building on 18-20 Brisbane Rd so as to soften the impact. All we are asking is for the first five levels above ground to be truncated, we are willing to accept the basement levels and upper podium levels extending to the corner."
A Sunshine Coast Council spokesperson said the built form, amenity, scale and bulk expectations of the local area were expressed by the outcomes sought within the Mooloolaba/Alexandra Headland Local Plan Code and District Centre Zone Code in the planning scheme.
"The approved development represents an urban form that aligns with the intent of Mooloolaba," the spokesperson said.
Mr Hindmarsh said the bid to have the design change had been refused and followed by "increasingly aggressive demands" for permission to access six metres or so under Marvic's land and building foundations to allow installation of rock anchors for the two-level basement construction that would happen just beyond the shared boundary.
"There have been written threats from the Abacus solicitor about taking Supreme Court action so as to force the access the developer wants," he said
Marvic's request for the building design to be altered was in line with two key planning scheme performance outcomes.
The senior consultant assessing the Abacus application Patricia Jensen shared Marvic's concerns.
In December she sought information from the developer about adequate separation to adjoining uses to "ensure an adequate level of amenity, visual and acoustic privacy is achieved" to ensure the building did not "unreasonably impact on adjoining properties along its southern flank".
The project was ultimately approved earlier this year.
Mr Hindmarsh said the effect would unnecessarily screen his client's building which had been tastefully set back from the street in anticipation of the activation of the Muraban Street road reserve through to Brisbane Road.
Sunshine Coast Council relinquished the road reserve which would now be occupied by the Abacus re-development.
Mr Hindmarsh said while his client understood the importance of the Brisbane Road Car Park development and genuinely wanted to support it, the construction right to front boundary with their property was unnecessary and would have a major impact on their property and the streetscape in general.
Through Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson, he said he had sought state government intervention but the response was the matter was in the council's hands.
1. James Richards of DMC Projects, (project manager for Abacus) met with Ken Hindmarsh on 18.12.17 and showed Ken through design drawings that they had submitted for the Material Change of Use application.
2. On 30.12.17 Ken sent an email to James Richards stating "the Owners of 20 Brisbane Road are concerned about the impact the design submitted for approval has on their building and the streetscape ... it looks like the new development perimeter wall will extend full height for the full length of the side boundary from Brisbane Road through to Smith Street ...... Those high walls coming to a 90 degree external corner will have a harsh impact on the streetscape, not to mention 20 Brisbane Road ...... Are the developers willing to amend the design in this regard?
3. On 6.3.18 James Richards asked if we could send him marked up drawings of the truncation we were requesting.
4. To date we have had no reply from James Richards.
5. DMC Projects sent us a DRAFT Rock Anchoring & Crane Deed on 10.1.18 - this deed made no mention of compensation, the deed gave no specifications or location plans for the rock anchors, and the deed gave no details of how the crane would be used over our property.
6. Having not signed the deed we received a letter from HWL Ebsworth Lawyers (Lawyers for Abacus) on 8.3.18 threatening "the possibility of applying to the Supreme Court for access rights"
7. In a letter dated 11.4.18 HWL Ebsworth Lawyers advised us that "At no time during that development process did the Body Corporate raise an objection to the design of the development"
Our Response was - "A Material Change of Use (MCU) application was lodged with Council. This application was considered on a code assessable basis which meant that the local community and neighbouring property owners had no formal submission rights in the process . In December 2017, as soon as we became aware of the MCU design we raised our concerns with council and the developer about the potential impact on 18-20 Brisbane Rd of having a 5 storey vertical wall extending the full length of the property boundary and extending right out to the Brisbane Road frontage."
8. On 22.1.18 Ken sent an email to the Chief Executive of the Sunshine Coast Regional Council advising of the negative impact on 20 Brisbane Rd and asking for the corner of the development to be truncated
Council's response was "The development application is code assessable under the relevant legislation and does not trigger public notification stage"
9. On 22.1.18 Ken sent an email to Fiona Simpson MLA advising "...extremely concerned with Council's behaviour in pushing this through, not to mention the huge impact the project as presently planned, will have on my Client's property, their tenants, their tenants customers and the wider community... The Council recently pushed through amendments to the town planning scheme so as to accommodate their project. The long held town plan requirement to link Muraban Street through to Brisbane Road has been scrapped. The long held and accepted building setbacks and allowable heights at the boundaries have been abandoned. With the planning scheme amendments in place the MCU is now conveniently code assessable, leaving my clients, as an adjoining neighbour and the greater community with no say.
Fiona Simpson raised the concerns with Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning - Cameron Dick
10. Cameron Dick has advised us - "In relation to the development application over the Brisbane Road Car Park site, the council, as the assessment manager, is required to assess the development application against all relevant planning instruments. The state government had a limited role in this application. In particular, the application triggered referral to the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA) for impacts on state transport infrastructure, as well as requiring advice on urban design matters. Under the planning legislation, I have no power to intervene in decisions made by SARA."