CONFLICT: It was voted that Cr Greg Barnes had a conflict of interest relating to the Bargara development when the matter was considered by councillors in September.
CONFLICT: It was voted that Cr Greg Barnes had a conflict of interest relating to the Bargara development when the matter was considered by councillors in September. TAHLIA STEHBENS

Community is real Jewel loser: Barnes

WHILE having the Jewel development approved at six storeys is somewhat of a win for the Bargara community it still seems nothing short of a bitter sweet ending.

After a lengthy and turbulent application process Division 5 councillor Greg Barnes said while it was a great outcome, the community was the one missing out in the long run.

The original application, which was for a nine-storey development, had extra community benefit requirements that the developer had agreed to meet.

These extras would have included foreshore works and the creation of new car parking, pathways, landscaping, shelters, seating and landscaping of a roundabout.

After being called in, State planning minister Cameron Dick was only able to assess the application on the specific development area.

Cr Barnes said if the developer had have stuck to the town plan requirements from day one the highrise would have been approved with the commercial aspects in tact.

"(The community) fought pretty hard to maintain the integrity of the planning scheme and I think the minister has done a very thorough job,” Cr Barnes said.

"Everyone supported the 20m height from the start and I think the five storeys at the front and six at the back was a good compromise.

"But if the developer and council had have stuck to the town plan in the first place those extras would still be included.”

Now that the minister has decided commercial spaces would not be viable for the development, Bargara residents miss out on that aspect of economic development.

"When council look at a planning scheme we don't look at competitiveness in a business sense,” Cr Barnes said.

"The minister can do that and it's fine, but all the people I had spoken to would've supported commercial business on the ground level and the rooftop bar.

"If the original application would have come through at 20m we would've approved all of that.

"The fact is (the developer) chose not to, in fact at one point I think he said it was nine or nothing, and that's quite disappointing.”

Cr Barnes said it was a great shame that the whole process had been completely unnecessary. "I think it has hurt the applicant and his aspirations,” he said. "The whole experience has been unfortunate.”

Of the process undertaken by council, Cr Barnes said he was interested to see what repercussions were in store.

"It was unusual and unorthodox,” he said.

"The minister identified that and the community have too.”

A spokesman for Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said that the deemed approval process was being investigated by the Office for the Independent Assessor.



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