Councillor Ian Petersen at the site of a proposed intensive multi-residential development which will go ahead after ratification yesterday. He said a refusal would have been costly and impossible to defend.
Councillor Ian Petersen at the site of a proposed intensive multi-residential development which will go ahead after ratification yesterday. He said a refusal would have been costly and impossible to defend. Renee Pilcher

Estate gets final tick

TRYING to stop a development that complied with the region’s planning scheme in every respect was tantamount to opening Pandora’s box, Planning and Development Committee chairman Cr Ian Petersen said yesterday.

The recommendation to approve a 142-unit multi-residential development on a bush block off Old Maryborough Road was withdrawn at yesterday’s Gympie Regional Council general meeting to allow for further discussion, before finally being ratified.

During the discussion, Cr Petersen indicated that the decision to approve the high-density development did not sit comfortably with any of the councillors who were all aware of residents’ concerns.

However, he emphasised that a refusal had the potential to impact on all Gympie region ratepayers as well as backfire on the residents who opposed the subdivision.

“It would be impossible to provide valid grounds for refusal,” Cr Petersen said.

“Consequently, a refusal would be impossible to defend in the Planning and Environment court.”

Residents of the existing suburban estate that borders the proposed site managed to secure a small win, with the developer Custodian Project Services agreeing to reduce the number of units from the original 171 townhouses to 142.

But several were still concerned that a project of such intensity would deteriorate into a “ghetto”, while others had issues with increased traffic volume and associated problems.

Cr Petersen said because they realised from the start that the development would be impossible to stop, they focussed their efforts on minimising impacts.

Negotiations with the applicant achieved several major concessions he said, including reducing the intensity to well below the maximum allowable.

“An appeal would almost certainly be successful and would result in ratepayers having to fund considerable legal costs with the attendant impact on rates.”

More pertinent to neighbouring residents was a danger an appeal could open the way for the applicant to seek a decision from the court to revert to the maximum allowable development – meaning at least 176 units, two stories against all neighbouring properties, increased density and less green space. As to concerns about noise, traffic and stormwater, Cr Petersen said these issues had been addressed by conditions.

In response to comments that normal sized house blocks were what might be expected on the site, Cr Petersen said the multi-residential zoning had been put in place in 2005 following normal processes such as public notices, and its zoning status was available to anyone buying or building in the area since that date.

Gympie Times


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