2 July 2014
USC has just completed a survey relating to the development future of Halls Creek and Beerwah East, two areas currently under consideration by both the Sunshine Coast Council and the Queensland Government.
USC’s Office of Engagement surveyed more than 400 residents from Caloundra and surrounds to identify the level of public knowledge about the issues involved, including the future of undeveloped areas between the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay regions.
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engagement Professor Mike Hefferan said the phone poll, which aimed to advance public discussion on whether Halls Creek and Beerwah East should be considered for inclusion in South-East Queensland’s urban footprint, produced some surprising results.
“For a matter of such regional significance, the level of any detailed knowledge was surprisingly low,” Professor Hefferan said.
“Of the 400-plus survey respondents, more than 50 percent said they had never even heard of the Halls Creek area, and an even greater percentage was unaware of the debates involving Beerwah East. It is remarkable that only one in 20 respondents said they had any detailed knowledge of these areas or the proposals under discussion.
“There appears to be a real disconnect here, as about 60 percent of respondents indicated that these were issues that the community would like to know more about.”
The USC survey also sought public opinion on the importance of an inter-urban break or “greenbelt” between the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay regions.
“Eighty percent of respondent considered the maintenance of an effective greenbelt was either important or very important to the region” Professor Hefferan said. “One might suspect that many of us have seen the effects of uninterrupted urban sprawl in other areas and would not want to see that repeated here.
“What is most significant is that the respondents were open to discussion on what the size of that greenbelt should be and what land uses it might include.
“Given the importance placed on the inter-urban break, there is now an opportunity for government and the community to study and discuss this issue in detail and to lock in that buffer – in whatever form it takes as soon as possible and as part of wider regional plans.”
Professor Hefferan said there were many examples from around the world of how such areas could be successfully controlled and managed sustainably into the future.
“From our survey, that would appear to be a much more important and pressing issue than immediate debates over the edges of the urban footprint,” he said.
– Terry Walsh