THE Planning and Environment Court has found in favour of landowners Michael and Caroline Arnett to establish a funeral parlour and function facility in Maleny.
The court set aside a previous Sunshine Coast Council decision to refuse the development application for the funeral parlour at 57 Mountain View Road.
The court ordered that the application be approved but stipulated that the development must adhere to 67 specific planning conditions.
It appears the council abandoned its fight to uphold the planning scheme and consented to the approval through a negotiated outcome.
The original refusal was voted on at a full council meeting in July 2019 after council’s planning assessment department recommended approval be granted.
The motion to refuse, led by Division 1 councillor Rick Baberowski, resulted in six votes to four to refuse the proposal on the grounds that it was inconsistent with the planning scheme and would cause “unreasonable impacts” to the rural character and amenity of the area.
At the time, the proposal generated considerable local and community interest, with council receiving 147 properly made submissions opposing the application.
The development conditions included in the court approval vary considerably from the original conditions recommended by the council planning staff.
The development is now allowed to host two funerals a day, whereas the conditions recommended by the council staff was for one per day.
Some conditions have been strengthened, such as tightened noise abatement requirements, a 2m acoustic barrier, no entrance signage advertising a funeral parlour and extra conditions managing the property entrance and driveway.
However, other conditions have been lessened or deleted all together, including a requirement for landscape rehabilitation, passive climatic design, renewable energy and fauna management.
There is also no requirement to lodge a vegetation protection covenant on the land title for ecological conservation purposes.
The landowners – Caroline and Michael Arnett – are relieved to finally have an outcome.
“We are pleased to have finally received this approval that has minimal changes to our original proposal as a result of the extensive appeal process,” Caroline told GC&M News.
“It is unfortunate that the focus has had to be centred on the funeral component, even though it was never intended that we would operate as a traditional funeral parlour, without acknowledging the other important services we will offer.
“It was never our intention to have traditional funeral parlour components, such as cold storage. [We just wanted] a facility to hold the celebration of the deceased person’s life and to help the family and friends begin their healing process in a beautiful rural setting.”
Caroline regrets that misunderstandings and misinformation turned some in the community against their proposal.
“The application was misunderstood by some and it’s almost impossible to correct the information that spreads like wildfire on the grapevine – especially in a tight-knit town like Maleny,” Caroline said.
“Now, for us, it is onto the really exciting part of providing a beautiful and sympathetic integrated life celebration facility in the Maleny hinterland, which will include a funeral service component is one of the services we will offer,” she said.
“In addition to funerals, our services will cater for all types of celebrations for the important aspects of life, including weddings, birthday celebrations, business and holistic seminars, and other functions.”
Main image: Artist’s impression of the proposed chapel (Picture: Sophie Arnett)