Ramada Resort features their public art in the foyer.
Ramada Resort features their public art in the foyer.

Developers must provide public art

MILLIONS of dollars in costs are being imposed on Fraser Coast developers to provide public art within their projects but they have no clear direction about what they need to install or create.

In a hit and miss operation, the council is only charging some developers to pay the contribution – calculated at one per cent of the construction cost of projects for public art.

The council insists the policy complies with the 1993 Local Government Act.

But the Chronicle asked the council last week to explain if it needed to draft a policy, advertise the policy and adopt the policy.

The council replied it does not “collect charges towards public art”.

“The developers spend the funds on public art at their developments.

“The council believes the policy and conditions are reasonable and relevant.”

But Doug McKay, partner in Urban Planet Town Planning, said: “We’ve been pointing out the inadequacy and potential illegality of these charges.

“We believe the practice may be unlawful but this hasn’t yet been tested.”

Recently Hervey Bay’s Centro stage 2 investors were hit with a $1.1 million “condition” for public art and the just-completed Ramada Resort was obliged to install expensive public art, choosing its foyer to feature it.

“Our members have raised this issue on a number of occasions and we understand that council is imposing this charge at times but not at other times,” Daniel Poacher, chairman of the Fraser Coast branch of the Urban Development Institute of Australia, said.

“It is quite a burden on the viability of some projects.

“This obviously is a concern for the UDIA and its members in a time when we all need to be stimulating growth on the Fraser Coast.”

Mr Poacher said he believed the policy was not a planning scheme policy but more of a policy directive for collection of the charges.

“The UDIA understands that for council to collect charges they needed to have a policy drafted, advertised and adopted in accordance with certain State Government legislation. We are not sure if this process has been followed by council.

“For council to collect charges they also need to provide a properly developed calculation on how they calculate the charge.”

A developer aiming to spend millions of dollars on a new Coast project said the public art condition could be anything – “a piece of scrap iron made into a fish, a horse, or a dog”.

“We believe our public art is within our project, colourful floors with a locally relevant motif, an attractive entry and so on.

“If we were asked to give $100,000 or so to the local hospital we’d feel significantly more comfortable.”

Mr McKay said developers had to “haggle” over the contribution price.

“This region will end up looking a shemozzle of artworks because there is no direction in what you should do at all. It’s totally ad hoc both in the art and in the method council is using to apply the conditions.”

The council says it has a policy on public art in Hervey Bay, which was adopted on December 8, 2004.

“The policy recommends that 1 per cent of the council’s total annual capital works budget be allocated to funding public art projects. The pooling of the funds from smaller projects will enable funds be directed towards larger significant projects or precinct enhancements.

“The policy allows flexibility in what can be considered to be public art and can include street furniture, paving or traditional artworks such as sculptures.”

The policy doesn’t run blanket across all developments – only for developments assessed under the Hervey Bay Town Plan and in those areas identified in the policy, says the council.

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