Architect claims Sekisui would complement landscape
AN ARCHITECT believes the Sekisui House development would give people a "heightened appreciation" of Yaroomba and the surrounding landscape, including Mount Coolum, a "parabolic dune" and large frontal dune.
This is contrary to major opponents Development Watch and Sunshine Coast Environment Council's challenge that the resort, residential and retail development's height and scale is inappropriate for the coastal site.
"Visual amenity" was top of the agenda today in Development Watch and SCEC's appeal against the Sunshine Coast Council approval of Sekisui House's seven-storey Westin Hotel, 740 apartments and retail on vacant land on a site 100m from Yaroomba Beach.
Architect Shane Thompson gave evidence on behalf of Sekisui, and said he believed architecture should be approached to "respect that landscape and appreciation of that landscape, rather than detract from it".
The adjunct professor believed Sekisui's design achieved this and was more favourable than beachside "McMansions" often built to their boundary and which encroached on public spaces.
"The buildings here will give a heightened appreciation of the landscape for many people," Prof Thompson said.
Prof Thompson used the example of sunshades designed for the resort, abstractly inspired in shape and colour by the Mount Coolum rock face, and gave the effect of "changing character" as one moved through the buildings.
Prof Thompson said he believed the minimum 12m spacing between buildings gave enough room for forest to "fully re-establish itself" to a better quality and size than what was typically found beachside.
The exact heights of Sekisui's buildings were not included in Prof Thompson's expert report, rather he said he referred to the more "relatable" term, "storeys".
He confirmed the ceiling heights on the resort's first two levels would be 3.8m and 2.7m on the remainder.
The 2017-18 Friends of Yaroomba president Paul Huntress, Point Arkwright resident Prue McGowan and former Development Watch president Lynette Saxton also gave evidence today.
Mr Huntress said he believed the view from his Yaroomba home would be obstructed by Sekisui, and was "concerned" other key vantage points would be impacted contrary to Sekisui's digital "photo montages" which suggested they would not.
Mr Huntress accused Sekisui of "dangling a little five-star carrot" to detract from its bid to make money off the "high-density residential" component of the approved plans.
Last week, the Planning and Environment Court hearing heard 608 one, two and three-bedroom apartments would be priced from $450,000 to $1.6 million.
Ms McGowan told the court she had lived at Point Arkwright for several decades, and was concerned Sekisui was "foreign".
Ms McGowan's statement claimed Sekisui "did not contribute to the community in any way" and she told the court she was cynical of the company's sponsorship of a local surf club and Coolum Carnival fireworks.
"I have a very jaded view of that, that's buying votes, buying people in the community," she said.
Ms Saxton told the court she did not believe Sekisui would provide local jobs to the same degree as the former Hyatt Regency resort, now Palmer Coolum Resort.
The court earlier heard the Westin Hotel was expected to hire 500 people, including locals.
The hearing continues.