Redevelopment of van park granted approval

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

AN application to transform the Clinton Van Park land into a massive Bunnings warehouse was approved yesterday, but all is not lost according to the van park residents.

At an emotive Gladstone City Council meeting yesterday councillors debated the decision for more than an hour before approving the application, which would see residents at the van park lose their homes.

However with 66 conditions placed on the development residents were hoping the applicants may decide not to go ahead with the project.

Director for applicants Parmac Property Group, Paul McDermott, disagreed, stating the conditions would not stop the development.

'There might be some minor changes, but the conditions don't put it at risk,' Mr McDermott said.

'There is nothing in the conditions for this not to go ahead.'

During his deputation to the council, spokesperson for the van park residents Mark Rochford outlined the social, environmental and safety issues involved.

'My main concern has been the elderly and disabled residents at the van park ? this is their home,' Mr Rochford said.

'We'll just take it one step at a time now and see what happens.'

It was heard during yesterday's meeting that the council had asked the Parmac Property Group to submit a social impact study as part of the development, however it refused on the grounds it did not consider the social effects as relevant.

Councillor Mat Burnett voiced his disapproval of the decision by the applicants not to submit a social impact statement.

'I think that's pretty ordinary actually,' Cr Burnett said.

The council's planning manager Andrew Kearns then told the council that they could not demand a social impact statement from the applicant.

'Council cannot refuse the application based solely on social issues,' he said.

Cr Burnett also asked if the council could impose a condition that the applicant had to pay for residents to relocate to another van park, however again Mr Kearns said there was no recourse for such a condition.

Mr McDermott also addressed the council on the proposal yesterday, stating that Parmac would, where possible, provide means of relocation to residents who had to leave the van park, however it was still not a legal obligation.

Gladstone mayor Peter Corones vacated the council's chambers during the debate, declaring an interest as an owner of two caravan parks.

Mr McDermott said he hoped to start on the project sometime in January next year.



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