Better planning to deliver jobs, tourists and protection for turtles

The Palaszczuk Government today approved a revised design for the Esplanade Jewel development at Bargara, delivering a better outcome for local marine life, the community and local businesses.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick also announced further planning changes for the region, to better protect local amenity and marine turtles into the future.

The Minister called in the development application on December 21 last year.A call in is a rarely used reserve power that can only be exercised if the matter involves or is likely to involve a state interest and warrants ministerial involvement.

“The community had expressed concerns relating to the original development application, including economic impacts on the Bargara local centre, building height and scale, and impacts on the nearby sea turtle nesting areas,” Minister Dick said.

“As Planning Minister, it is my responsibility to ensure planning processes and decisions in our state are transparent, accountable and comply with the Act.

“Early in my assessment I flagged to the applicant that I had serious concerns with certain aspects of the proposal. I commend the applicant for their responsive and proactive approach throughout this process, including engaging one of Australia’s leading turtle ecology experts to inform the revised design.

“My department followed up these concerns with a series of meetings with the applicant who agreed to make the following changes to the proposal:

  • a reduction in the maximum height from 9 storeys to 6 storeys
  • no commercial tenancies at ground level
  • the removal of the rooftop bar
  • design and lighting mitigation measures that substantially reduce impacts on sea turtles.

“I also thank the local community for their engagement and their commitment to better planning outcomes for the region.”

Minister Dick said Bargara is home to Mon Repos, the largest rookery for endangered loggerhead turtles on the east coast mainland of Australia.

“It’s a key tourist attraction in Queensland and is economically significant for the region, attracting more than 30,000 visitors each year,” he said.

“We need to ensure the right protections are in place to conserve endangered loggerhead turtles in this area which is the largest nesting population in the South Pacific.

“That’s why I have also today advised Bundaberg Regional Council of my intention to use my statutory powers under the Planning Act 2016 to make a temporary local planning instrument (TLPI).

“This TLPI is intended to achieve two things – to clarify building heights at Bargara and strengthen the existing provisions to further limit the impacts of artificial light on the endangered turtle population.

“Both of these will help to limit development impacts on sea turtles.

“The TLPI will also introduce a new Sea Turtle Sensitive Area code that will apply to all new development in the Sea Turtle Sensitive area already defined in Bundaberg Regional Council’s planning scheme.

“I acknowledge the work the Bundaberg Regional Council has already done in providing a longer-term solution through amendments to its planning scheme and appreciate the complex policy environment that must be worked through.

“While the TLPI is in place, I have asked my department to work with the Department of Environment and Science and the council to progress the permanent amendment to the Council’s planning scheme. This is important work that must be prioritised,” Minister Dick said.

The TLP will apply for up to two years, while Council goes through the process of permanently amending its planning scheme.

To view the approved plans and conditions visit https://planning.dsdmip.qld.gov.au/planning/better-development/ministerial-call-ins

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