Group manager development Michael Ellery and CEO Steven Johnston .
Group manager development Michael Ellery and CEO Steven Johnston . Sarah Steger

9-storey no-go zone: Planners share bombshell recommendation

COUNCIL planners have confirmed a nine-storey development proposed for the Bargara Esplanade is out of character and incompatible with the surrounding area.

Group manager development Michael Ellery today told councillors and residents substantial changes would have to be made to ensure the controversial development complied with Bundaberg Regional Council and state requirements.

The revelation came toward the end of Wednesday's council briefing meeting at chambers, where many matters were brought forward - only one of which the residents wearing 'anti nine-storey Bargara development' stickers truly cared for.

In recent months, the proposed high-rise garnered a wave of attention from members of the public concerned about the effect the structure would have on the environment and community.

Topping the list of issues is the proposed building's height and the precedent it would set for future developments.

As set out in the Bundaberg Regional Council Planning Scheme 2015 and the state's Planning Act 2016, developments of this nature are not to be taller than three storeys (11m) unless deemed exemplary, which would allow for a maximum of five storeys (20m).

Currently sitting at nine storeys (29.7m), the development is in direct breach of those benchmarks.

Council and members of the public met for a briefing meeting today to discuss the controversial nine-storey Bargara high-rise.
Council and members of the public met for a briefing meeting today to discuss the controversial nine-storey Bargara high-rise. Sarah Steger

"The proposed development greatly exceeds the acceptable solution and the discretionary allowance," Mr Ellery said.

Instead, Mr Ellery offered a compromise of sorts and said a preliminary approval should be given for a part-approval of the development, which would see the height reduced to 20m - a height which Mr Ellery said allowed for six storeys based on current designs.

A preliminary approval does not mean the development will go ahead but rather, supports elements of development that need to be changed to comply with requirements.

"It is recommended that ... all elements located higher than 20m be refused," Mr Ellery said.

"A resubmission of the proposal will require more detailed information regarding how the development will be adequately treated within compliance with the acoustic and lighting requirements of the nuisance code."

Because the proposal would need to be significantly redesigned, submissions of any news plans would have to be considered by the council against the Planning Scheme.

"Given that substantial changes would be required to be made to develop and meet these three key areas of interest, it is likely that a resulting development would be substantially different from the development that was applied for," Mr Ellery said.

"It's considered by our officers that the nine-story component of the development is not sympathetic to or compatible with ... the scale and character of the surrounding area at Bargara and that this is a serious conflict with the Planning Scheme."

Council and members of the public met for a briefing meeting today to discuss the controversial nine-storey Bargara high-rise.
Council and members of the public met for a briefing meeting today to discuss the controversial nine-storey Bargara high-rise. Sarah Steger

Mr Ellery said there were a number of shortcomings in terms of the nine-storey's compliance with regulations, including the potential negative impact on turtles, the structure's proposed use of artificial lighting and its height.

"Based on the information provided, it's not clear that the development can be lawfully conditioned to achieve compliance with the code," he said.

And even though the code lists numerous solutions aimed at dealing with light spillage and the resulting effects on nesting turtles (tailored lighting types and placement and using screens and tinted windows), applications did not address these.

"Despite this, it is considered that a refusal of the whole development is not warranted, given that this element is only one part of a much larger proposal, most of which meets the requirements of the planning scheme and other requirement benchmarks," Mr Ellery said.

The recommendation that was made today will go to a motion that will be put to Bundaberg Regional Council's ordinary meeting next Tuesday.

Councillors will have the opportunity to vote for or against the part-approval or move to vote on the original, nine-storey development.



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