Cairns Regional Council questioned over removing public appeal process in Civic Theatre land rezone
- THE CAIRNS POST
- SEPTEMBER 17, 2015
CAIRNS Mayor Bob Manning has stressed there was “nothing sinister” about the rezoning of land at Cairns Civic Theatre that will remove the ability for public appeal.
Council’s Planning and Economic Committee this month changed the zoning of the Florence St site from Community Facilities to City Centre Planning Area, which the council’s Planning and Environment general manager Kelly Reaston said “more readily” reflected the use of the site.
“The community facilities zoning is designed for things like schools and civic halls, it never envisaged a theatre-type construction,” she said.
“Whereas the city centre zoning … is consistent with that theatre sort of use.”
A council report noted the change would remove “the ability for a submitter appeal”.
“However, this is considered a substantial community benefit for a community funded venture,” the report stated.
Cr Manning said the Civic Centre was there “well before” the current planning scheme came into place.
“When the new planning scheme comes into place it will be rectified,” he said.
“In the meantime, to allow us to get on with the project … this motion has been moved to allow us to push ahead.
“It’s not like it’s something to shut down any discussion or to stop people from appealing.
“There is nothing sinister in this.”
But mayoral candidate and Cairns lawyer Jim Brooks said it was heavy-handed to declare the area a “no community input” zone.
“By changing the zoning, council has released itself from any obligation to notify the public of the development, and obliterated the community’s right to make submissions about it – let alone appeal decisions the council makes,” he said.
“The only obvious reason for this change is that council can proceed without community input and without scrutiny.”
Ms Reaston said, regardless of what the application stated, “people can put in their opinions and council will listen to them in their assessment”.
“This just means that they can’t formally appeal it through the court process,” she said.