JEWEL BARGARA: An artist impression of a proposed high rise on the Bargara esplanade.
JEWEL BARGARA: An artist impression of a proposed high rise on the Bargara esplanade. Contributed

Jewel countdown: Timing for decision confirmed

A SPOKESMAN for Minister for State Development Cameron Dick says a decision on whether a controversial highrise application at Bargara will be called in will be publicly announced before the end of the year.

The NewsMail has sought an assurance from Mr Dick's office that an announcement would not be made on Christmas eve after concerns were raised a decision could be buried before the festive season public holiday.

"I can assure you the decision will not be made on Christmas Eve,” the spokesman said.

He said an announcement date was yet to be settled, but reconfirmed that it would be "made before the end of the year”.

In November, Mr Dick proposed a ministerial call-in of the approved Esplanade Jewel development at Bargara.

Bundaberg Regional Council did not make a decision on the application before the end of the time period allocated to do so, which resulted in a deemed approval for the project which the developer has said would only be built at nine storeys.

All affected parties were notified of Mr Dick's intention and given 10 days to have their say.

The Minister then had 20 business days to make a decision. That timeframe ends on Monday, December 31.

Next week has the Christmas Day and Boxing Day public holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Then many government departments will go into a compulsory closure arrangement for the Christmas and New Year period, based on the fact this is "a traditionally low productivity period”.

However, the closure arrangements apply only where departmental requirements permit the absence of employees and limited staffing arrangements may need to be implemented in some areas to meet essential government and public needs.

The compulsory closure period will be from Tuesday, December 25 to Tuesday, January 1 inclusive.

Minister Dick has previously said he was using his reserve powers under the Planning Act 2016 to issue a proposed call-in notice for the Bargara project, seen by many as a potential catalyst for growth in the region.

"There has been overwhelming concern from the community in relation to this planned development - regarding both the impact it may have on local turtle populations, and the highly unusual approval route taken by Bundaberg Regional Council,” Mr Dick said.

"My department has undertaken an assessment of the development and provided me with a recommendation that, in this case, a proposed call-in is appropriate.

"The deemed approval process is actually designed to encourage councils to make timely development assessment decisions, so this is a highly unusual case, especially for a development of this nature.

"There are also significant concerns over the potential impact artificial lighting may have on marine turtle nesting in and around the Mon Repos turtle rookery, which may raise a matter of both state and national significance,” Mr Dick said.

"Any decision to ultimately call in this application will be based on whether the development involves a state interest that warrants my involvement - for example, biodiversity and the environment, and transparency in decision-making.”

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