SUNSHINE Coast Council has engaged two independent consultants in a bid to shore up its argument that the massive Caloundra South development will leave an infrastructure shortfall of between $360 and $560 million.
Council has been locked in discussions with the State Government and the soon to be dismantled Urban Land Development Authority, which approved the development, since mid-2012.
The ULDA also has commissioned independent advice.
The council, which will rely on consultants AECgroup and GHD to test the infrastructure cost gap identified by council planners, has confirmed it made a formal submission to the Public Environment Report prepared by developer Stockland as part of necessary Federal Government approvals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
However in a letter to Clerk of the Parliament Neil Laurie, Infrastructure and Planning Minister Jeff Seeney has dismissed council's claim of a $500 million shortfall.
The letter was in response to an e-petition organised by Nicklin MP Peter Wellington calling for planning control to be returned to council and an ensurance that all necessary infrastructure was in place before housing construction started.
Mr Seeney said discussions were ongoing and independent reports had been commissioned.
But it is clear from his correspondence that he does not support council's position.
"I am advised there is no evidence to suggest that the development of Caloundra South will impose a $500 million burden on ratepayers," the letter said.
A spokesman for the Minister confirmed the advice to which he referred had been provided by Mr Seeney's departmental officers.
"The provision and cost of infrastructure for Caloundra South are currently being jointly considered by the State Government, council and utility providers," Mr Seeney wrote.
He also defended the development master plan approved in June last year, saying it "incorporated extensive environmental protection and conservation strategies".
That assessment is at odds with a submission by Sunshine Coast Environment Council to the Public Environment Report.
It argues that a thorough study of the site's capacity should have been done first rather than trying to "back-justify" a 50,000-population target that doubled the original figure.