Full steam ahead for nine-storey Jewel project
THE controversial Bargara Jewel development application was yesterday approved and both Bundaberg mayor Jack Dempsey and developer Sheng Wei are ready to get the ball rolling.
Remax agent Scott Mackey visited Mr Wei over the weekend and said he was eager to get things underway.
Mr Mackey said Mr Wei would wait for 10 business days while the council formalised any conditions but was confident works would be underway at the earliest opportunity.
Cr Dempsey was as equally enthusiastic, saying he would like to see construction start as soon as possible for the project, which boasts 60 units, 10 townhouses and four commercial tenancies including a rooftop bar.
The application process has taken months to deliver a result.
"We want to ensure we go through the deemed conditions and we'd like to see the project start as soon as possible, but a lot of that will be out of council's hands," Cr Dempsey said.
"The deemed approval means council now has 10 business days to attach conditions that will ensure best practice in coastal urban design.
"Council has now put itself in a stronger position to get expert advice on appropriate conditions.
"We want to make sure that the community understands, by having these conditions in place that we understand their concerns in relation to the environment and so forth."
Conditions are expected to outline standards regarding light exposure, parking arrangements and shade requirements.
The mayor said while the development application had created an unprecedented amount of community interest, ultimately the high-rise would mean success and growth for the region.
"At the end of the day this project is up and going, it sends a light of confidence for development right across the region and it shows that certainly the Bundaberg region is a positive place to live, work, play and invest into the future," Cr Dempsey said.
"This project ... will be able to see jobs and growth right across the area and what it does is it sends a message right across Australia that Bundaberg is not going to sit on its hands and knees thinking that the world is going to come to it.
"What we've seen is over the last two years over $350 million of deemed approvals through this council through our open development product that sees almost 100 per cent of infrastructure fees and charges and that has stimulated the growth.
"Only in the last couple of years we've gone from negative growth to positive growth for the first time in many years and this council is about taking this community forward and by having this type of construction here, it'll not just assist the workers that we have here but it'll also bring new skills and help develop new skills of our workers here."
Environmental issues such as light pollution and turtle safety were of high concern for the Bargara community, and Cr Dempsey said his priority was to ensure low light emissions during the turtle nesting season.
"We all have a responsibility to protect our iconic turtles," he said.
"The fact is that turtles can nest anywhere along the coast. This doesn't mean we should stop development. It means we need a whole-of-community approach to reduce overall light emissions.
"Council is seeking support from other authorities to commission a lighting audit along our coastline, which will guide future decision making.
"It's our responsibility now to ensure the conditions deliver a state-of-the-art, high-quality project with necessary safeguards."
While this nine-storey high-rise has been approved, Cr Dempsey said it didn't mean all future applications would automatically attract the same outcome.
"Each will be assessed on its own merit and the information that's provided to council," the mayor said.
"It really is disappointing people have played a lot of politicalisation and mistruths over many months that certainly haven't been in the best interests of this community.
"Council is more about taking this region forward in a positive way.
"This is progress. I'm proud to be Mayor of a Council that cares for our community, creates jobs and protects the environment."