Hemmed in by development, Maroochydore’s last farmer sells off the farm

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An eighth-generation farmer who is the owner of Maroochydore’s last remaining undeveloped private land, is putting most of his prime Sunshine Coast property up for sale.

Pursued by dozens of developers over decades in the booming holiday hotspot, 81-year-old farmer Peter Wise has decided that now is the time to sell 35 hectares bordering Wises Road and the Sunshine Motorway, where he runs cattle next to suburbia.

A man in a hat stands next to a rusty old tractorA man in a hat stands next to a rusty old tractor
One of Peter Wise’s old tractors.(ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

The Wise family has been farming on the Sunshine Coast since 1901. Peter Wise’s British-born grandfather Frederick migrated to Australia chasing gold, before buying ‘Palmyra’ on Buderim for £800.

Mr Wise and his brother David purchased an adjoining 121ha of farmland in Maroochydore between 1965 and 1968.

A man ploughing a field with a horse.A man ploughing a field with a horse.
Peter Wise’s father Frank ploughing with Obie the Clydesdale in 1961 on Buderim.(Supplied: Peter Wise)

But Mr Wise expected that this sale would proceed much faster than the 21 years it took to agree on his last large property exchange, back in 2002.

A section of the Sunshine Motorway, Maroochy Boulevard, the Sunshine Cove canal estate and kilometre-long Harvey Norman Homemaker centre complex, have all been built on land where tourists once picked their own fruit in the Wise family’s orchards.

farm, maroochydore, land, wisesfarm, maroochydore, land, wises
Peter Wise’s orchards have been eaten up by development.(Supplied: Peter Wise)

Mr Wise has not shied away from controversy, publicly butting heads with authorities and neighbours who tried to encroach on his land. He successfully fought for his rights in the Supreme Court.

This latest sale will be on his own terms, with no real estate agents involved. A 55-page information booklet of sale was prepared, before he agreed to allow expressions of interest from potential buyers.

Looking down over a bomber with a white line outlining Wises farm below.Looking down over a bomber with a white line outlining Wises farm below.
A photo taken as a B52 bomber was refueled over Wises Farm in 1982.(Supplied: Peter Wise)

“The sale of Wises Farm will be conducted under my version of a tender system where, at the end, a potential purchaser’s cash offer is to include their best vision to redevelop the unique site,” Mr Wise said.

To ensure a premium price, a lapsed development plan has been updated and resubmitted.

Prior approvals

In 2012, the state’s Planning and Environment Court gave preliminary approval for a development on the farmland, including residential housing, commercial and community uses along with open space and environmental management areas.

But the outdated documents lapsed, and on Wednesday Mr Wise’s town planners lodged a modified development application with Sunshine Coast Regional Council.

It allows for seven precincts, including medium-density residential housing, low-density residential housing, a mixed-use precinct, a local centre precinct, and an environmental management precinct.

wises-farm-real-estate-maroochydorewises-farm-real-estate-maroochydore
The lapsed plan has been updated and resubmitted to council.(Supplied: Peter Wise)

Between 500–700 homes could be built and his consultants, Innovative Planning Solutions, have also sought approval for a service station.

Two motorway underpasses exist, allowing traffic access through to the Sunshine Cove estate.

Mr Wise said the code-assessable approval process, would give developers time to put in their offers.

He still hopes that a Christian university will be part of his land’s future, but said he understands that the new owner will make their own development decisions.

Cattle and land.Cattle and land.
Peter Wise has been running beef cattle on the land he plans to sell.(ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief executive Antonia Mercorella said with the current housing crisis on the Sunshine Coast she expected there would be “a very significant backlash if council didn’t move quickly to approve the application.”

Record real estate prices

Simple house blocks in Maroochydore have sold for more than a million dollars in the past year, but Mr Wise was not speculating about the potential price of his extensive property.

“The last time [newsreader] Rob Brough spoke about it on Channel Seven [on the Sunshine Coast], he tongue-in-cheek made a bushman’s valuation that it would be worth $50 million.

A man and  his granddaughter smile at the camera with figs covering a tableA man and  his granddaughter smile at the camera with figs covering a table
Peter Wise with his granddaughter Georgia Dean in the fig packing shed, January 2019.(ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

Already a multi-millionaire, Mr Wise has no plans to give up farming.

He still owns the historic Palmyra homestead on Buderim and will keep 4 hectares of his Maroochydore land bordering the motorway where he grows and sells figs and is cultivating coffee trees.

Posted 2h ago2 hours agoWed 6 Jul 2022 at 9:17pm, updated 1h ago1 hours agoWed 6 Jul 2022 at 9:56pm