New shopping centre set to get knocked back
TOWNSVILLE City Council looks set to refuse approval for a new shopping centre in Rasmussen as councillors yesterday stood aside from deciding the matter because of a conflict of interest involving campaign donations from a rival developer.
Brisbane developer East Coast Invest has applied to develop a Coles-anchored centre on residential land at the corner of Riverway and Santal drives.
The recommendation from planning staff is that the application be refused on grounds including that it is an out-of-centre development that would have an adverse impact on the Rasmussen district centre, Riverway Plaza.
All of the councillors in the council's planning committee declared a conflict of interest yesterday as they met to consider the issue. The council's solicitor, Tony Bligh, told the meeting the council's conflict arose because of developer Geon Property's involvement in the redevelopment of Riverway Plaza, whose owners submitted against the East Coast Invest proposal.
Mr Bligh said before the 2016 election Team Jenny Hill received donations from three companies in which Geon Property CEO Ben Griffin held significant interests. Records show those companies mentioned, Interlaken Pty Ltd, Schilthorn Pty Ltd and Vibram Pty Ltd, donated a total of $2970 to Team Jenny Hill.
"It would be appropriate in those circumstances for councillors to form a view that council has a majority conflict of interest in any development application in which Mr Griffin has a significant interest," Mr Bligh said.
"That (Riverway Plaza) submission creates a majority conflict of interest given that it is also on behalf of Mr Griffin."
Planning committee chair Cr Les Walker recommended the matter be referred to the CEO for a decision. Last week East Coast Invest and Coles issued statements highlighting community support and the jobs that would flow from the proposal.
According to a planning committee report, the council received 14 submissions - nine in support and five opposed.
It says the development is inconsistent with the City Plan and its centre hierarchy, would induce hardship on the Rasmussen district centre, would result in unacceptable traffic outcomes and that any additional retail facilities are best delivered in the district centre.
The issue is due to come before the full council for a decision later this month.