JEWEL BARGARA: New artists impressions of a proposed high rise on the Bargara esplanade have been released as part of the developer's response to further information requested by Bundaberg Regional Council.
JEWEL BARGARA: New artists impressions of a proposed high rise on the Bargara esplanade have been released as part of the developer's response to further information requested by Bundaberg Regional Council. Contributed

Government could still 'call-in' controversial high-rise

THE fate of the controversial proposed Bargara high-rise will go to the vote in just two days' time.

Bundaberg Regional Council will meet in Gin Gin on Monday morning to either approve, deny or give a preliminary approval to the game changing development.

The decision, on the application by Esplanade Jewel Pty Ltd, will be made by the councillors after a lengthy application process.

In this week's council's briefing meeting, two councillors, Bill Trevor and Scott Rowleson excused themselves saying there was a "perceived conflict of interest”, while councillor Greg Barnes stated he may also have a "perceived conflict of interest” but would remain in the meeting.

Cr Barnes would not confirm or deny if he would take part in Monday's vote.

The proposal, for a material change of use, was first lodged to the council on February 28.

The original application to council was for 62 units, 10 townhouses and five food and drink outlets to be located at 35, 37, 39 Esplanade, 2 Burkitt St, 4 and 6 See St, Bargara.

The 6096sqm block has three road frontages and has neighbouring properties between three to five storeys in height.

The application has created division within the Bundaberg community with passionate groups for and against the development.

In April the council's development assessment manager Richard Jenner told the News- Mail the nine-storey project had the potential to be a catalyst for investment and growth.

"This is the first significant building proposal of its type in the last 12 years in Bargara,” Mr Jenner said at that stage.

Mr Jenner said the Queensland Government could "call in” an application at any point during the four-stage assessment process.

If council were to approve the development, the State Government could choose to replace the assessment manager and do their own independent assessment.

However, to be of state interest the matter would have to affect the economic or environmental interest of the state or a part of the state, according to the Planning Act 2016.

Just three weeks after the development application for a nine storey high-rise on the Esplanade at Bargara was submitted to the council, an information request asked the applicant, Esplanade Jewel Pty Ltd, to provide additional information on a number of points.

Among the issues highlighted by assessing council officers was the building height, car parking, access and intersections, its environment management and the close proximity to Mon Repos Regional Park.

On July 20, the company enacted its provision to "stop clock” on the assessment in order to provide further representation.

This "stop clock” was withdrawn on August 22 and the balance of the decision continued.

At the same time Esplanade Jewel sought to address matters raised in the first draft, which was presented at the July 18 council briefing meeting.

These matters included acoustic and light strategies.

The development is code assessable in accordance with the Bundaberg Regional Council Planning Scheme 2015, and does not require public notification about the application.

Despite this council received submissions from members of the public, 10 in support and 73 against.

At this week's briefing meeting the packed room heard from Cr John Learmonth who said the proposal for a nine-story high-rise on the Esplanade, Bargara, should be "thrown out the window”.

Cr Learmonth said the developer's revised application was "bugger all difference, to be quite honest” from the original application.

"We have been asked to vote on this, as an average layman ... as we are not engineers,” he said.

"But we still have a recommendation from planning not to accept it at that height.

"I think it should be thrown out the door.

"I don't know why we are having this argument in public ... it's as if they are taking us for fools and pushing and pushing until we approve it.”

Council CEO Steve Johnson said there was a process to follow and a role of the council staff was to assess the application.

"It's the role of the elected council to make a decision with the information that has been put forward and to look at the planning recommendation,” he said.

"This will then be voted on by those in the room at the time.”

The recommendation for application by the development assessors was to give approval to the development in part, with conditions which included a maximum height of 20m.

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