by Erle Levey
WITH more than $10billion under way or in the pipeline in major public and private investment, the Sunshine Coast is experiencing a period of generational change.
The long-awaited opening of the State Government's $1.8billion Sunshine Coast University Hospital has spearheaded continued investment in the Kawana Health Precinct.
Two large-scale, master-planned communities are under way - Caloundra South (now known as Aura) and the $3billion Avid development Harmony.
These master-planned communities will eventually be home to 50,000 people and 17,000 people respectively.
The $400million Sunshine Plaza expansion is well advanced, together with the expansion of Kawana Shoppingworld.
Construction has started at the Stockland's Bokarina Beach community and final approvals are in place for the future Birtinya Town Centre as part of the $5billion Oceanside precinct.
Yet it doesn't just happen. Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said this level of activity is the product of having a clear plan for the region and its future.
He said the regional economic development strategy to 2033 also took into account community and environmental objectives for the region, especially with the State Government planning for the population to reach 500,000 by 2041 through the SEQ Regional Plan.
Mr Jamieson said council had undertaken extensive planning to ensure we appropriately accommodate this projected population increase, so that we can maintain the lifestyle and our pristine environment for our future generations.
"Here on the Sunshine Coast we want to be recognised as a forward-thinking location,'' he said.
"Just look at the solar farm we have put in place, the work on the Maroochydore CBD and our plans for an international broadband submarine cable.''
Major highway duplication and interchange work is also taking place.
Proposals for a fast rail connection to Brisbane from the Sunshine Coast, together with a light rail project linking the urban areas of the region are on the table.
The under-sea broadband cable project is aligned to the region positioning itself as Australia's leading smart city region.
Sunshine Coast Council is facilitating a new international submarine cable landing to south east Queensland by 2020 which will stimulate local business, generate new investment, and improve telecommunications diversity to Australia's east coast.
A detailed project feasibility study has been completed.
The $347million expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport is set to deliver benefits to the tourism industry, business and the community and open up direct flights to more locations for travellers and exporters.
The expansion to an international standard east-west runway and terminal is expected to be complete in 2020. The announcement of the contractors to deliver the project is expected early this year.
Meanwhile the new Maroochydore CBD on the 53ha greenfield site has seen the completion of the first stage of bulk earthworks and the start of civil construction.
Expressions of interest are being sought from telecommunications and technology entities to help deliver what is regarded as one of Australia's most connected cities.
SunCentral Maroochydore, established by Sunshine Coast Council to bring the development to life, is looking for world-leading internet speeds to support commercial, research, educational and other CBD services and public WIFI.
Such communications infrastructure would also include management of autonomous vehicle operation within the CBD.
The Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Strategy will achieve four clear goals for the region over the next 20 years: $33 billion economy, triple what it is now; 100,000 new jobs in high-value industries; 20% of goods and services produced for export; household incomes that exceed the Queensland average.
See this week's edition of Sunshine Coast Daily Weekend's Real Estate magazine for a comprehensive look at development in the region.