Retired bishop fears surfing club’s ‘frenetic’ impact
A retired Catholic bishop fears the beachfront cul-de-sac his family has called home for 60 years will lose its tranquil, safe appeal if a surfing clubhouse is built into the dunes.
Brian Heenan has lived on Buderim St at Currimundi for the past six years, although his parents built the house in 1959.
He has joined a Planning and Environment Court appeal against Sunshine Coast Council's approval of Windansea Surf Club's new clubhouse.
Bishop Heenan was the Catholic Bishop of Rockhampton from 1991 until 2013.
His handling of complaints about a child-abusing priest during the 1990s came under scrutiny in 2015 during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Bishop Heenan has since apologised for the way in which the complaints were handled and for other aspects of how child abuse complaints were managed.
His involvement in the Windansea appeal arose from his concerns about the positioning of the clubhouse, rather than its existence altogether.
"I'm totally in favour of surfing," Bishop Heenan said.
"I'd like to see the club settled somewhere reasonably handy … but not on that site."
In an affidavit lodged with the Planning and Environment Court on March 13, Bishop Heenan said the area surrounding the proposed clubhouse site had become a gathering place for many different groups.
"Those visiting the beautiful beach pass through it and return to the showers and taps provided," he wrote.
"Daily walkers, sometimes in large groups pause here as they share stories and appreciate the stunning views.
"Dog walkers come from early morning and throughout the day as they enjoy the dog off leash opportunity and they too have much to share about their canine treasures.
"An early group of surfers gather all year round and enjoy this quiet parkland while they solve the problems of the world.
"For all this, this fine parkland provides an ambience of peacefulness, a calmness which allows all who use the area to feel it is their right to be there.
"It's their gift to share with all who come, a place for all the people."
His objections to the clubhouse going included safety concerns.
"My concern is that with an influx of surfers and their families accessing the proposed clubhouse it will become a place of frenetic pace.
"I am concerned it will become less safe, as surfboard riders come and go, swinging their surfboards with fins around might injure a child or an elderly person.
He said he also was concerned about public space becoming only available to those associated with the club and the destruction of natural bushland in favour of a clubhouse.
"If they were to overtake that area it wouldn't be the people's area that it is now."