Friday 10 October 2008

Yet another high-density approved

You would have thought, there'd be a flicker of hope after we elected, even by a small majority, a greener more environmental astute Council.

At least that's what we were sold.

Now we have yet another preliminary approval granted by Cairns Regional Council for 112 units, three storey high, to be built at Giffin Road, White Rock. This is a in Res 2 zoned area. Presently, there's a nursery on the site.

This follows the 300 units approved at Woree on the old Drive-in movie site that Glen Crop has halted; the eyesore of 150 units on the highway at Clifton Beach; 190 at CEC's Manunda Boulevarde project, and the 240 units recently completed 'Shitty Waters' behind the BP servo also at Woree.

This is not 'sustainably living', as our Mayor was so keen to promote. Mayor Val said this week that her worst moment in the last six months was voting in favour of approvals that couldn't be changed. Well, maybe if enough voted another way, and led by example, a different outcome could be realised?

Didn't take her long to be swayed by the "we better approve this or we'll get sued" line.

This new development is on land right across the highway from the Mt Sheridan shopping centre, that new owners Mirvac, are about to pump $65M worth of renovations.


Anonymous said...

The "we better approve this or we'll get sued" line is endemic to the Cairns Regional Council, & that line of thinking was established (& no doubt encouraged by Fat Kev Byrne) during the two terms of the previous Council.
Sure, if a development is 'code assessible' (ie. the details of the development are within planning guidelines), it gets passed automatically, which is a huge problem in itself - meaning that the Planning Dept at Council just plonk a rubber 'YES' stamp on it, recommend it to the Councillors, and it's passed. I know from speaking with Council officers during the last Byrne term (off the record, of course!), that planning permission was often given without any recourse to tree and vegetation issues, which were looked at AFTER planning permission was given. Go figure. I doubt the situation has changed, which would account for the Foley Road Follies currently screening, False Cape debacle etc etc etc.
Only those projects which deviate from the Cairns Plan in any way have to be run through the Planning Dept., and only these projects are able to be objected to by the public. As far as I'm concerned, ANY project should be open to objection.
However, there is always scope for proper & sustainable planning to be applied to ANY development, at the discretion of Council.
I think part of the problem is historical -that the Planning Dept. at Council, & those Councillors that were re-elected, were so used to almost any development being approved, that the "we better approve it or we'll be sued" mantra has become entrenched - and I note that Poor Val has now started chanting that one. Throw in the mix of new Councillors still feeling their way through their jobs, and the whole situation is fraught.
I think it is high time that Mayor Val learns to kick ass. She's had 6 months in the job now. The newer councillors need to have a good look at the Integrated Planning Act and see what it actually does say about Council discretion on projects. The Planning Dept at Council needs a good shake-up, & perhaps those planners that came through the Byrne era need to be re-educated as to their proper role, ie, to assiduously evaluate projects, or shown the door. Additionally, environmental issues need to be properly addressed by Council officers & the EPA before any planning permission is given.
There does not have to be any suing done - if a project is overturned in terms of planning, surely the developer can then be invited to rework the project so that it does fit within the guidelines recommended by Planning.
We had a situation here at Yorkeys Knob a few months ago where a hideously large & inappropriate development was proposed. In the Planning Dept's recommendation to Council they even stated that the project was "slightly over the considerations of the Cairns Plan" [akin to being a little bit pregnant, I think], but the Planners recommended the development proceed.
This was to be four stories in a quiet residential street with nothing over two stories. It was touted as 'resort development' yet had no reception area. The holes in the design were very apparent, & there were a sizeable number of objections from local residents.
Yes, we got the "we'll get sued" mantra initially, but with a incisive report prepared by one of our local residents, and with intense individual lobbying of all Councillors and Mayor, the project was overturned in Council. One win. The developers are then able to redesign according to recommendations, and if viable, to resubmit to Council.
Is that so difficult Ms. Mayor, Councillors and Planning Dept? We do have many special features and abundant beauty in Cairns, and yet we do not seem to be able to take a hold of that, value and protect it. You've only to look at the difference in the design of the Northern Beaches roundabouts, compared to the hideous six lanes of traffic with no trees at Edmonton, so see what planning can and cannot do.
Time to kick ass Ms Mayor - you were elected partly on a sustainable platform, now make it happen, and entrench it in Council culture. I'm sure the 47% of us that voted you in would very much like to see that, & support it.

Anonymous said...

Trouble is ... if she kicks ass to hard, there will be no one left.
Some areas of Council are way way under resourced, and are just coping with the day to day issues. It all comes down to money ... and Council cannot compete with private consultants or the State Service. Even Main Roads pay a 25% bonus above their better than local government salaries just to "retain" staff.
Fortunately, Council still has some very loyal staff left.

Oh, and by the way Lillian, wasn't KB the mayor when that Yorkey's thing was overturned?

Anonymous said...

Hey Quickie, with the current recession, those with jobs may be keen to hang on to them, expecially if they are in secure employment like local Govt and State. It is recognised that it is not usually money that motivates people to change their jobs. A lot is job satisfaction and enjoying your place of employment. If you are constantly under pressure, with no Management support, work in a culture of bullying and initimidation - why would you stay.

Anonymous said...

To Quickie above; by no means was I criticising the Council employees en masse - I find, as a resident, that requests to Council (eg. blocked gutters, coconut trees accidentally missed during denutting) are dealt with most competently & quickly. The service at both city Council chambers and Smithfield is also excellent. And I know a lot of the outdoor employees put in the hard yard & a LOT of sweat to keep out city looking good & our drains running.
However, I do believe there is a problem in the Planning Department rubber-stamping so many ill-designed and inappropriate developments.
Re development - the example I give in the comment above occurred not two months ago. Yes, there was also a major development application overturned in court in 2004 during the Byrne erc. The local Yorkeys Knob Residents Association took both the Council and the developers, the Toma Group to Court conjoinly, and Judge Peter White overturned the planning application. It took a lot of work, believe me.
Then a couple of months later, Toma Group resubmitted another application, which the Association only heard about two days before the new application was laid before and approved by Byrne's Council. The plan was extremely similar. Two days was not enough time to request to speak before Council or raise an objection to the second plans, which were nearly as problematic as the first.
Thankfully, the developer has gone slowly bankrupt, the development didn't proceed.
However, the good, not over-the-top developments at Yorkeys still go ahead without any opposition. People have got to live somewhere.