21 storeys – Should we, or shouldn’t we? THIS is the question raging around Hervey Bay at the moment. There are also a lot of mistruths and scare campaigns going on around the 21-storey application and the idea of going higher.
FCPIA don’t advocate on individual applications, and I would like to throw some facts into the argument about going up. This is not necessarily specific to this development or height but to the benefit behind changing our thinking as a community.
• Council has planned infrastructure for a minimum of 100 persons per hectare in high density nodes and we currently achieve nowhere near these figures on the Esplanade. Therefore, there would be no real cost of infrastructure upgrades.
• There hasn’t been a new 6-storey building built since the GFC in 2008. The reason for this is that the current height limits are unviable for developers and high-end hotel chains to be sustainable.
• Council already has 20-storey limits near the Marina and has passed 16 storeys in the CBD. So going up is not new and it will probably be part of Council’s new Town Planning Scheme.
• Tourism is one of our biggest employers and attractions, and we are getting left behind the rest of Queensland. We haven’t had anything new of any real scale or quality for 15 years and the new tourism market demands quality if we are going to compete.
• Our youth are leaving the area, and we lose around 1800 net in the 18-25 year olds per annum. We need new jobs created in tourism and hospitality, and 4-star plus resorts as one of the key employers are what’s required to keep our youth. These resorts will also keep the airlines flying into the region.
• Housing is an issue and people moving here come for the water. So, we need diversity in apartment living for people to live, and high end, safe accommodation is needed in a variety of options.
• Urban sprawl is adding to the cost of rates, causing environmental issues, and putting more cars on the road. Density with amenity around it is the only way to get that under control.
• The Council Strategic Framework discusses projects like this and has the provision to go up so long as the project meets to desired outcomes. Therefore, any application should be accessed on its merits and dealt with by the professional town planners at Council, not individuals’ personal preferences. Let’s stop with the Facebook “the world is going to end” emotional campaigns and just look at the facts, benefits and issues and make reasonable urban town planning decisions on every application.