Stockland begins Commonwealth environmental assessment on Aura South

3 min
10 July 2023

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Stockland has begun the process to secure Commonwealth environmental approval on a parcel of land directly adjacent to Aura – Stockland’s multi award-winning masterplanned community on the Sunshine Coast – called Aura South.

Located south of Caloundra, Aura South is positioned within the Halls Creek Potential Future Growth Area. This area has been recognised by the State Government in South East Queensland (SEQ) Regional Plans since 2009 as an option to accommodate future population growth and meet the region's demand for long-term housing needs.

The site is a substantially cleared former pine plantation landholding spanning 1,231 hectares. It will have direct access to the soon to be opened Bells Creek Arterial Road and will provide a direct connection to the Bruce Highway. The Aura South site is also situated between 1.6 kilometres to six kilometres east of the Bruce Highway and would not be visible to any highway traffic.

Submitting Aura South for independent environmental assessment by the Commonwealth is the first step in assessing the site's environmental impacts and suitability for future development. There will also be opportunities for community involvement.

The Commonwealth’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act provides the legal framework to assess the proposed impact the application may have on matters of national environmental significance.

Stockland Senior Environment and Community Development Manager Mark Stephens said large parts of Aura South were cleared for forestry activities around 50 years ago and are now primarily used for grazing purposes. Extensive environmental investigations have been undertaken on the site for over 15 years which has informed the application Stockland has submitted to the Federal Government.

“We have submitted a balanced and sustainable proposal which will ensure environmental protections are secured in advance of any future detailed planning. The EPBC is a rigorous and scientific-based assessment that includes several opportunities for the community to have their say,” said Mr Stephens.

Mr Stephens said the land is highly suitable to be considered for development, given it is elevated, largely flood free and can leverage the significant investment undertaken by the State Government for roads, schools, as well as taking advantage of the existing amenities in the neighbouring suburb of Aura.

The Aura South site is located approximately 1.5 kilometres north of the ShapingSEQ Regional Inter-Urban Break – a 16-kilometre green buffer separating the urban areas of Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast.

“We recognise the Inter-Urban Break, which is identified in the 2017 SEQ Regional Plan, and the Aura South proposal does not impact upon this in any way. Stockland’s application proposes to establish a regenerated natural buffer zone on the southern side, which has an ability to increase the Inter-Urban Break in the future should Aura South be supported,” said Mr Stephens. 

If approved for future development, over 400 hectares of the land – one third of the Aura South site – is planned to be rehabilitated, which will restore environmental values lost during the forestry era, including the reintroduction of native plant species. Studies conducted over the past decade have not detected any koalas or migratory birds on the land.

As part of the EPBC submission, Stockland has committed to protect the Pumicestone Passage with enhanced buffers to ensure water quality is protected. Aura South does not have any coastal, river or creek frontage and the potential future development area is located more than three kilometres west of the Pumicestone Passage.

“Stockland’s vision for Aura South is for it to be one of the most sustainable communities in the country. We look forward to an open dialogue with the community and all levels of government to share our vision and approach to protect the environmental values of the site through the EPBC assessment process,” added Mr Stephens.

“We have a 20-year history of creating connected, sustainable communities on the Sunshine Coast that has seen nearly 21,000 homes created for Sunshine Coast families. This includes the planning and delivery of critical community infrastructure, including town centres, bridges, arterial roads, and major parklands, which will facilitate additional housing and employment opportunities.”