May 23, 2012
The South Burnett Regional Council has rejected an application by the owner of a proposed shopping centre site in Nanango for a two-year extension to their current development permit in order to save ratepayers $136,000.
Councillors at today’s monthly SBRC meeting were told that because of changes to planning laws since the permit was first issued, ratepayers would have to pick up a $136,000 headworks charge if Council granted the extension. Council officers recommended the application be rejected.
Cr Cheryl Dalton – head of the Council’s new Planning, Land Management and Waste portfolio – said she strongly agreed with the recommendation.
“This project has had a long and colourful history,” she said. “There were 22 objections to the original proposal. There’s some genuine angst about it in Nanango.
“And I don’t think it’s fair to expect ratepayers in Murgon, Wondai or Blackbutt or anywhere else in our region to pay any developer’s costs.
“If we did that, I think we’d be setting a very bad precedent. How long would it be before another developer who wanted to put up a shopping centre somewhere else asked for a $136,000 subsidy?
“This isn’t just about money – it’s also about principles.”
But Cr Barry Green, who formerly served on Nanango Shire Council and now represents Division 1 on the SBRC, disagreed.
“Nanango needs development badly,” he told the meeting. “Forcing this development to start again may lead to a lost opportunity.
“Based on figures I saw six years ago – and they’re probably higher now – Nanango spends about $30 million a year in Kingaroy’s shops. This project holds out the hope of keeping some of that money in the town I represent.”
Cr Damien Tessmann said he agreed with Cr Dalton that it was unfair to ratepayers to ask them to cover the headworks costs of the project, noting that the developers seemed to have done nothing with the site for the past six years.
“Regardless of what they say about community benefits, they’re in this to make money,” he said. “Knocking them back won’t stop them re-applying to Council.”
Deputy Mayor Cr Keith Campbell said he agreed with Crs Dalton and Tessmann, while Mayor Wayne Kratzmann said that while he agreed with Cr Green on the need for more local development, he had to agree with Cr Dalton that if the developer’s inaction on progressing the project meant they were now facing additional charges, that wasn’t Council’s fault and ratepayers should not be expected to foot the bill for it.
However Cr Green was not easily swayed.
“$136,000 isn’t a reason to knock it,” he said. “If this project were fully developed the ratable value would skyrocket. We’d recover that money in no time.”
Cr Kathy Duff said that she supported Cr Green’s argument. “I agree with Barry that Nanango needs more development and that we could recover costs in other ways. Council should be looking at encouraging growth.”
When the recommendation to reject the extension was put to the vote, it was carried 5 to 2.
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A Controversial Development
The proposed Nanango shopping centre is a 2.91ha site located at the corner of Normanby Street and the D’Aguilar Highway, about 1km north of Nanango’s CBD.
In July 2006, the former Nanango Shire Council approved an application by the property’s owners Pacific Property Developments Pty Ltd to build a shopping complex on the site.
The development was to include a 2800m2 supermarket; 1860m2 of specialty shops, 84m2 of office amenities; a 200m2 fast food outlet, a 200m2 auto premises and a 570m2 child care centre.
It was initially hoped that Coles and ABC Learning Centres might be key tenants.
However news of the application provoked an angry response from the Nanango Chamber of Commerce who said at the time they felt the new centre would drain business away from the town’s CBD if it were built.
One business – the Nanango Trading Co-Op Ltd – even took Nanango Shire Council to the Planning and Environment Court in an effort to reverse the decision but failed.
Since then, however, there’s been little movement on the project beyond the erection a sign promising the shopping centre would open by the end of 2008.
southburnett.com.au approached Pacific Property Developments for a comment today but a company spokesman said they would be unable to do so until they had time to review Council’s decision.
- Related article: Locals Welcome Shopping Centre Decision