The new-look Jewel at six storeys.
The new-look Jewel at six storeys. Adam Wratten

Jewel update: Council allows extension for key projects

BUNDABERG Regional councillors have made an allowance involving a subsidy scheme for four key construction projects, including the Bargara Jewel highrise.

Councillors decided to grant these projects significant time extensions to complete works but still be eligible for the Bundaberg Open Development Scheme incentives.

This scheme aims to encourage development to the area by subsidising infrastructure charges, with projects to be completed by June 26, 2020.

A 224 lot subdivision in Branyan, a relocatable home park in Burnett Heads, and Janam's FE Walker St shopping centre in Kepnock are the other three projects that have been given an extension to complete works.

These three projects must be completed by June, 2024, if the developers are to benefit from the scheme, but a substantial commencement to the projects are scheduled to begin in a year.

A Bundaberg Regional Council spokesman said the projects were delayed at various stages of planning and therefore they needed more time to complete works.

Sheng Wei's Jewel project was granted an extension for completion to 2021, which is a time requested by the developer, according to the Council spokesman.

The council spokesman said the delay in Jewel's application was due to the ministerial call-in last December.

This call-in, by State Planning Minister Cameron Dick, saw the project aproved at six storeys, not the initially proposed nine.

In May Mr Dick announced a Temporary Local Planning Instrument for Bargara, which restricted the heights of residential buildings to six storeys.

The council spokesman said the value of the scheme's subsidies for each project was "notional".

"The amount is notional until such time as an infrastructure agreement is signed and it's subject to them meeting their obligations," the spokesman said.

He quoted local government legislation when explaining why the projects were discussed privately.

Council discussions could be confidential if applications were made under the Planning Act, if it prejudiced the interests of local government or other businesses if there was a public discussion, or if the publication of details allowed a person to gain a financial advantage.

Discussion of the projects were held in confidence, but the council voted to support an extension to the applications were public.

In reference to the Jewel, four councillors declared a potential conflict of interest and left the room when the vote was counted.

These councillors were Greg Barnes, Bill Trevor, Scott Rowleson, and Wayne Honor.

Cr Trevor said he had been part of a delegation to China involving the developer, and therefore could not be part of the vote.

Cr Barnes said he also had visited Nanning with Mr Wei, but had previous "professional advice" that this would not be a conflict of interest.

However, given the advice was not recent, Cr Barnes said that he would leave the chamber during the vote.

When it came to Janam's shopping centre, councillors John Learmonth and Steve Cooper did not vote after declaring a potential conflict of interest.

Cr Learmonth said that he was a shareholder in another suburban shopping centre, while Cr Cooper said the complex could be detrimental to him if it was to happen.

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