Thursday 13 August 2009

Council supports community block out

At yesterday's Cairns Regional Council meeting, Councillor Paul Gregory proposed an amendment, overturning a previous decision, to make the proposed Smithfield Town Centre Code Assessable, not Impact Assessable.

This dramatic change, that only Councillors Pyne, Leu and Pyne voted against, effectively blocks community input and objection.

A statement released late yesterday ignored this fundamental change.

"Mayor Val Schier said the policy would require town centre proponents to provide detailed information to assist in the development application process and ensure the best planning outcomes were achieved," the statement said.

“Council will establish a policy that ensures characteristics of these town centres reflect the needs of the current and future residents, such as creating sustainable transport systems and infrastructure,” Mayor Val Schier said.

“The planning scheme policy will set the requirements for detailed site analysis and growth projections, so that the development is done sequentially ensuring that services come on line as they are required.”

A workshop for Councillors was held recently to discuss the two proposed Smithfield and Edmonton Town Centres.

“I am pleased that we have achieved excellent planning outcomes through this process and look forward to start the of the town centres development.”

However the change has far from pleased Councillor Leu, who has long had a interest in town planning and how the community should be a party to new development.

"This effectively blocks people from appealing planning applications," Councillor Julia Leu said. "When significant changes are proposed, they should reflect the aspirations of the community."
Prior to yesterday's vote, the consulting partners for the land owner at Smithfield, Flanagan, emailed all Councillors encouraging them to support the change in how the future development applications would be assessed. They clearly didn't want to see the project be delayed or held up by numerous objections or appeals from local residents, or neighbouring businesses.

Ironically, any development at the existing Smithfield Shopping Centre across the Captain Cook Highway from the land, is Impact Assessable, yet the proposed town centre is not, meaning they cannot object or appeal any Development Applications.

Community engagement is such a fundamental part of how a local government gains a partnership with its residents. The Cairns Regional Council ran a series of community meetings to get input about the proposed Smithfield Town Centre in the two weeks prior to Christmas last year, at a time that was widely criticised.

It was poorly advertised and held at a time when those that should have participated, simply couldn't get along.

"I wasn't even invited to attend these sessions," Councillor Lui said.

"I objected to the change in how this development would be assessed because of the impact it would have on the Smithfield Town Centre, and the concerns from the community over the height not being adhered to," Julia Lui said.

The former Mayor Kevin Byrne, is involved with Capital Globe, the company behind the development, along with the adjoining North Point residential estate of 300 house lots.

Globe has a mortgage broking subsidiary called LHL Investments, that has a substantial stake in the Smithfield Town Centre project under the company Trinity Properties, who have just lodged an objection against the Clifton Shopping Centre.

The way in which any substantial new development will affect existing business and community infrastructure, should be a guiding light for this Council that wanted more transparency and dialogue with its residents.

Last week the Acting CEO and also chief Town Planner, Peter Tabulo, reminded Councillors about Labor powerbroker Tony Mooney who denied claims of dodgy deals about Cairns Regional Council's approval for the Smithfield Town Centre development.

The Courier Mail reported that opponents of the proposal asked Premier Anna Bligh to investigate the high-profile lobbyist and former Townsville mayor's influence in the controversial development.

"Something smells here," Retailers Association national executive director Scott Driscoll said.
He said what was known for certain was that the council had allowed the development and there was "the direct involvement of Labor powerbroker and lobbyist Tony Mooney" who is a registered lobbyist for key developer Trinity Park Developments.


Pete @ Palm Cove said...

Why does Rob Pyne get two votes?

Is there something wrong about majority rules? This blog was pushing Val to be mayor. You seem to now be running away from this decision.

Sir Humphrey said...

KB, Auntie Val and Tony Mooney - just sensational! what a menage a trois in charge of destroying the northern beaches!

KitchenSlut said...

We Built This City is one of the more innovative events at this years Festival Cairns. Last weeks Compost festival liftout described this as "a public construction extravaganza, using nothing but thousands of cardboard boxes ........ the children build an entire city in two days, before the whole thing is crushed by the participants into a recyclable heap of cardboard rubble". Hmmmm ..... it almost sounds like a metaphor for the rise and fall of the Hedley empire?

Thanked sponsors are "Kewarra Beach resort, and a local development and construction group". The typically shy Compost doesn't name the development sponsors but yes, the logos and above link give this away as Flanagans, Capital Globe and the Smithfield town centre project.

The lobbying links to ALP identity Tony Mooney are interesting as presumably he was engaged by local Capital Globe head honcho and fellow loser at the last Council election, LNP identity Kevin Byrne. Curiously, KB's sycophant Dennis Quick has recently been ranting at Northern Watch for a Royal Commission into the lobbying activities of ...... Tony Mooney! Oh dear, any fallout between KB and Quicky would be the biggest love tragedy since Romeo and Juliet?!

P.S. Did anyone also notice the Compost letter of the day on Wednesday was a stout defence of developers from "Kevin Byrne, Whitfield"? What, no reference from the Compost to his role at developer Capital Globe? Somewhat unprofessional and journalistically remiss of the dear old rag?

nocturnal congress said...

Hehe, KitchenSlut...I noticed Kevin Byrne omitted his role in "Capital Globe". Any more info on this somewhat murky corporation by the way?

Sue E said...

The proposed Smithfield Town Centre development is predominantly high density vertical development something I suspect most members of the community don’t realise. Mixed use multistorey buildings are the preferred form of development in Precincts 1 & 2, i.e .multiple dwellings above business, office and shopping facilities.

Precinct 1 [Town centre core ] provides for a higher residential density than Precinct 2 and in addition to buildings to 12 metres [4 storeys] allows of course, landmark buildings to 18 metres [ how many is anyone’s guess. ] Precinct 2 the Town Centre Frame only permits buildings to 12 metres but that height may very well be debateable due to a recent amendment which added in brackets-4 storeys. As we now know, basements and semi-basements are not included in the definition of storey. Apparently there will be a gradual transition of building heights but it doesn’t take much imagination to visualise what is in the pipeline. Why do you think multiple dwellings, shopping and business facilities are code assessable not impact assessable? This whole development was compromised from the start – a huge conflict of interest and nothing has changed. The only Councillors with any integrity are Leu and Pyne.

Northern Beaches Warrior said...

Also, was just a mighty coincidence that KB's very pro- development letter appeared in the Compost as Editor' Pick, the very same day, that his no doubt fellow developer friend Roy Lavis, was going to Council for approval of a most controversial hill slope development.

I think not!