Jewel the key issues: Department answers your questions
WITH the announcement of the Jewel Bargara development being approved, the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning has released its summary of comments on the controversial highrise project.
The development application for the project was called in on December 21, 2018 and comments were invited from interested parties on the application.
The invitation attracted 191 comments, one of which was an e-petition with 1,700 signatures.
Reason 1: Nine storeys is out of character and will set a new precedent, be difficult to manage lighting impacts and be visible above tree lines.
The height of the development should be consistent with the five storeys maximum mentioned in the planning scheme.
Response: Agree with this concern. The assessment concluded that a maximum height of five storeys directly fronting the Esplanade and a maximum height of six storeys for buildings set back from Esplanade would comply with PO5 of the High density residential zone code of the planning scheme.
Reason 2: The nine-storey building is well designed, impacts of the large building can be managed, the building will provide a landmark and less than a quarter of the development is over seven stories.
Response: Disagree. The assessment concluded that a nine-storey building is not acceptable and could not comply with the requirement of PO5 of the High density residential zone code to 'be compatible with the existing and intended scale and character of the surrounding area'.
Issue: Retail and commercial uses
Reason 1: The proposed food and drink outlets will impact on existing businesses in the Bargara local centre.
Response: Agree with this concern. The assessment was informed by an economic specialist that concluded that the proposed retail and commercial uses would adversely impact on existing businesses in the town centre and could not comply with PO3 of the High density residential zone code of the planning scheme. The approved application does not include retail or commercial uses.
Reason 2: The mixed uses will be attractive and will improve pedestrian linkages between the town centre and residential areas to the south.
Response: Disagree with this view. The assessment found that there was no market demand for the proposed retail and commercial uses and that if they were to be provided, they would cause adverse financial impacts on existing businesses in the town centre.
The approved development has residential uses at ground level, which contribute to a positive street-scape and residential amenity.
Issue: Lighting impacts on turtles
Reason 1: Lighting from the nine-storey building will disorientate nesting turtles and hatchlings, with the taller the building, the more impact its lighting will have on turtles.
Negative impacts on turtles will affect local tourism.
Response: Agree with these concerns. A significant range of changes have occurred to the development to reduce the impacts its lighting will have on turtles and hatchlings. These changes include:
The single large apartment building being broken up into two smaller buildings, one being set back 50 metres from the Esplanade.
The building fronting the Esplanade is now only five storeys with a maximum height of six storeys for the building set back from Esplanade.
All balconies and glazing visible to the beach and ocean are treated to minimise light spill.
All external lighting for the development will comply with rigorous standards.
The changed development has been endorsed by an eminent turtle specialist as 'setting a new benchmark for turtle aware lighting strategies'.
Reason 2: The nine-storey development will not cause harm to nesting and hatching turtles around Bargara beach.
The development is a long way from Mon Repos, and not many turtles lay their eggs on Bargara Beach.
Response: Disagree with these views. Mon Repos is unquestionably the premium and preferred location on the Woongarra Coast for turtle nesting.
However, studies have proven that a number of turtles regularly nest on Bargara Beach. If eggs are not relocated, hatchlings born on Bargara Beach reportedly have a very high mortality rate.
Serious efforts need to be made to manage the impacts of artificial lighting around Bargara for the benefit of nesting turtles and hatchlings.
The nine-storey development proposed would have contributed to a significant increase in artificial lighting that would adversely impact on turtles.
Issue: Economic and employment opportunities
Reason: Bargara and the Bundaberg region need development, jobs and investment.
Response: Agree. There is no disputing that areas like Bargara will realise a range of economic benefits from major new development occurring.
However, development approvals need to be compliant with planning scheme provisions and relevant state interests. In this instance the assessment concluded that the proposed nine storey development was not acceptable.
Changes made to the development, particularly around reducing heights and improving lighting mitigation strategies have resulted in a development warranting approval.
Issue: Traffic, parking and infrastructure
Reason: The development and corresponding overcrowding will adversely impact on traffic, parking and sewerage infrastructure.
Response: The development has been conditioned so that adequate infrastructure is provided to service the needs of the development.
Sewerage supply is managed by council which will ensure the capacity of the existing sewer network is adequate to service the development.
Parking for the development is provided on site.
Issue: Level of assessment
Reason: The application should have never been code assessable and denied public input.
Response: The application is identified as code assessable development in the planning scheme.
Despite not requiring public notification, given the community interest in the development, interested parties were invited to comment on the development application.
All comments were considered in the assessment and deciding of the development application.
Issue: Council's assessment of the application
Reason: Council used the deemed approval process to have the development approved without making a decision, and the process was not transparent.
Response: The development application was called in on 21 December 2018 to assess and decide the developmental application, and the process was restarted at the start of the confirmation period.