Developer Sheng Wei.
Developer Sheng Wei. Contributed

REVEALED: Wei's $3.3m gamble as Jewel remains in limbo

MORE than $3.3 million was spent by the developer behind the proposed Jewel Bargara high-rise to secure the land before the development application was lodged with Bundaberg Regional Council in March 2018.

Details of the significant investment came as Acting Premier and Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick advised the community would be able to voice its views on the project, before the State Government decides its future.

Real estate sale figures show Esplanade Jewel Pty Ltd splashed a combined $3,320,000 on four blocks of land, with the most recent settling in December 2017.

Details obtained through RP Data reveal the developer behind the proposed nine-storey project, Sheng Wei, paid a combined $2,255,000 for 35 and 37 Esplanade and 2 Burkitt St in a multi-sale, with all three properties settling on December 16, 2016.


JEWEL BARGARA: New artists impressions of a proposed high rise on the Bargara esplanade have been released as part of the developer's response to further information requested by Bundaberg Regional Council.
The proposed Bargara Jewel. Contributed

A year later, on December 22, 2017, 6 See St sold for $770,000.

That's a $3.32 million investment for a project which remains in limbo, with Mr Wei previously stating he wouldn't go ahead with the project unless it was approved at nine storeys.

It's understood the developer has an agreement to secure the remaining block, 39 Esplanade, if and when the application is approved.

In December last year Mr Dick used his reserve powers to call in the development, with the state's decision set to supersede the council's deemed approval.

The application was initially given the green light at nine storeys via a deemed approval on October 2 last year, after the council failed to make a decision within the required timeframe, a process that caught the attention of the minister.

Mr Dick previously said one reason for the call-in was the developer had an approval, despite the council not undertaking an assessment to confirm the project complied with the assessment benchmarks.

"Specifically the height ... exceeds the acceptable outcomes for relevant zone code, which contemplated a maximum of five storeys," he said.

"The building height and the approval route taken by council created significant concerns for the community regarding the characteristics of the development and the potential impact on the local marine turtle population," Mr Dick said yesterday.

"Given the high level of public interest, I have decided to open consultation on the development application until March 1, 2019.

"Because the development application was code assessable under Bundaberg Regional Council's planning scheme, there had previously been no opportunity for members of the public to lodge submissions either for or against the proposal."

Yesterday, Deputy Director-General Planning Group, Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Kerry Ross said the department expected a decision to now be made before Easter.

"This decision will be backed by a transparent reconsideration of the matter, which includes inviting comment from the community," he said.

The State Government previously received about 100 submission when it announced it was considering a call-in.

"These issues related to matters such as lighting impacts on marine turtle populations, the type of assessment undertaken by the council, the number of storeys proposed for the development, the deemed approval process, potential employment opportunities created by the development, and the need for community consultation," Mr Ross.

Yesterday Mr Wei's team was contacted for a comment but a response wasn't received by deadline, however when the call-in was announced last year, a spokesman for Mr Wei said they would wait for details from the state and reassess the validity of the Bargara high-rise.

"It's very hard to go forward with this, because we're not going to go and spend a whole heap of money again without knowing what they want and what they want to achieve," he said.

"It may not be feasible for us to go ahead with this project if they demand changes."

To make a submission email ministerial.callin@dsdmip. or write to Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning,c/-Director, Development Assessment Services, PO Box 15009, City East QLD 4002.