Dominic Doblo at his farmers markets on Goodsall St.
Dominic Doblo at his farmers markets on Goodsall St.

Council approval concerns raised over Doblo’s Farmers Market

Development application documents indicate the popular Doblo's Farmers Markets has been operating without the appropriate council planning approval due to confusion surrounding historic zoning and previous approvals.

The documents revealed while the on-site plant nursery was approved, along with structures including the office, storage shed and amenities, other structures such as cold rooms and the use of the site as a shop were not.

It was discovered by Rockhampton Regional Council officers early last year the business was only approved for a plant nursery.

Reel Planning CQ on behalf of company Hudco Pty Ltd, owned by Dominic Doblo, has applied for the material change of use for a shop, being the farmers market.

Part of the application also includes new plans for a car park to be built on the southern part of the site.

The site, 6 Goodsall St, The Common, has existing building approval associated with a Garden Centre, which was granted in August 2017.

The site was originally the North Rockhampton Sawmill before it was sold in the mid-90s and it operated as the Sawmill Garden Centre.

Dominic Doblo bought the property in 2016 and replaced all of the buildings with a steel roof canopy supported by timber columns.

Council also owns part of the site as it was transferred to it in 2006 from Queensland Rail.

Council's planning department has had extensive consultations about the zoning and planning issues at the site.

The recent application notes in January 2020 council's development engineer cited safety concerns around customers parking in the road reserve and the use of the rear access for deliveries.

According to the documents, a subsequent meeting with council officers identified wider concerns about the lack of approvals for the site and the lawfulness of the land.

It was council's position that the premises only had approval for a plant nursery and it requested a material change of use be submitted for a "shop" use.

The documents state that according to council correspondence, the current approval "does not extend to the sale of fresh produce in the form of a daily farmers market".

The sale of the fresh produce requires a "shop" planning approval, which is what is being requested on the application.

The application states there has been some confusion around a historic zoning approval from 1993 and the operators interpreted they were operating legally.

The application presents a number of reasons the request should be granted including:

"The open built form and displays of fresh produce have created a sense of place that is unique to Rockhampton but is truly representative of regional character.

"The development has evolved into a popular local business and community asset that has brought elements of town and country together in a welcoming and friendly atmosphere."

The application states the flood hazard risk of the site is "well understood and can be managed without causing unacceptable impacts to the flood plain, property or people."

The application is also seeking approval for new additional structures which have already built including the primary cold room, which holds produce and is accessed by customers, and four ancillary cold rooms for produce handling and storage.

Proposed car park plans at Doblo's Farmers Markets.
Proposed car park plans at Doblo's Farmers Markets.

There is also plans submitted for a new proposed on-site car park which aims to alleviates the customer parking pressures in the Goodsall St verge and reduce traffic on the North Rockhampton Sewage Treatment Plant access road.

The carpark is to be compacted gravel and will have a canopy covered entrance into the market.

The existing plant nursery will also be moved to the northern part of the site.

The facility does have an approved Food Business License which has been renewed annually since 2018.

The development application for the material change of use and new car park was submitted in November.

The application was discussed at an ordinary council last month as council is the owner of part of the land and councillors were required to sign off owner's consent as part of the application.

The application is ongoing and further documentation is to be submitted with further details around the application and the land.

It is still being assessed by council officers and is yet to be approved.

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