Nature’s Edge residents angered by major expansion
Residents at a Coast over 50s resort are angry about unexpected changes they say were not on the brochure when they bought their forest retreats.
Nature’s Edge lifestyle resort resident Neil Bilney said he and other owners in the Forest Glen development were surprised to learn late last year of Sunshine Coast Council- approved plans to extend their village to nearly 300 homes.
Mr Bilney said he was among a group of residents who believed the development was complete at 190 homes, based on advertising as well as sales staff advice.
Mr Bilney and wife Pauline moved from Western Australia nearly three years ago after selling their 1400ha farm.
“(We chose Nature’s Edge) because of the size of it and the fact it was in the forest,” Mr Bilney said.
“It wasn’t going to be a great big facility.”
He and fellow residents are rallying against a development application amendment lodged by site owner Phil Gabel with the council in June last year to change the land use description from caravan park to retirement facility.
That application said the site had since 2013 had approval for up to 297 homes at Nature’s Edge.
Mr Gabel also wants to add four homes to the development.
He has all but sold the site to ASX-listed corporation Ingenia Communities, with the deal expected to settle next week.
The council received 31 submissions when it sought public feedback earlier this year on the land use description change.
All of them were objections.
Mr Bilney, who is chair of the Nature’s Edge Homeowners Association, included a petition in his formal objection which had 97 residents’ signatures.
He said they too had concerns about the issues raised in his submission, which included exacerbated impacts on oversubscribed community facilities.
“We were promised a village of ‘total size 190 properties’, only to find council had already approved 297 home sites for the project,” the submission read.
“The developer has tried to mitigate against residents’ anger ... by stating improvements will be made to the existing office facilities/games room … but (the current development application) would indicate no intention to do so.”
The submission also included fears a change of property description would trigger Centrelink to cease rent assistance payments, which was expected to affect 80 per cent of residents.
Mr Bilney said there didn’t seem to be much residents could do about more homes coming in the approved expansion but said an achievable outcome could be retention of a recreational area slated for more homes.
He said residents also wanted construction traffic to use an alternative site entry to the main gate of the Nature’s Edge resort.
He said the homeowners committee had no response from Mr Gabel but had spoken with Ingenia staff about resident concerns.
Ingenia investor relations general manager Donna Byrne said company representatives met with residents recently to discuss the change of ownership.
“As discussed with residents there is an amendment to the development application currently before council and until the outcome of this process is known the details of specific plans for the future development cannot be finalised,” Ms Byrne said.
“Once the development application process is complete Ingenia will be in a position to formalise plans for the site which will comply with all conditions, including any relating to traffic management.”
She said Ingenia would keep residents informed of plans for the development.
“We have significant experience in expanding existing communities and in working with residents to minimise disruption through this process.”
She also said also wanted to make clear that Ingenia’s plans to expand the development to more than 300 homes included 51 existing homes at The Village over 50s community situated on the same site.
She said Nature’s Edge had approval for 246 sites since February 2013.
The Daily reached out to Mr Gabel for comment but received no response.