Arkarra Tea Gardens’ future concerns local environmentalist John Eggleston.
Arkarra Tea Gardens’ future concerns local environmentalist John Eggleston. Alistair Brightman

Still hope for Bay tea gardens

THE PUSH to save the Arkarra Tea Gardens in Hervey Bay took on a sliver of hope yesterday with a councillor vowing to check out the possibility of the council buying the well-known site.

“This will be a tragic loss to the community if the tea gardens are sold for development,” Councillor Sue Brooks said.

“I now plan to inquire from council officers if we can buy the site out of our environmental levy fund or some other council funds. The gardens could offer council a commercial opportunity as well.”

Yesterday council's executive manager development assessment, Michael Ellery, tabled a report to councillors in the wake of Ms Brooks asking on October 27 if the development application that was lodged in September was to subdivide the site.

“And could council be informed about future public accessibility and the provision of infrastructure at Arkarra Lagoons in the event that the Arkarra Tea Gardens site was redeveloped?”

Arkarra Lagoons, which sits next to the old tea gardens, is owned by the council but there isn't anything in the 2010/11 budget for capital funding for infrastructure at the lagoons.

Mr Ellery said the development application was for a Class 1A dwelling to be reconfigured out of the existing tea gardens building.

If the reconfiguration proceeded, he said, it would result in the abandonment of the existing use rights for the food premises.

Class 1A buildings are typically detached residential houses and also include attached townhouses, row-houses and villas. A Class 1a dwelling cannot be located above another dwelling or class of building.

Council CEO Andrew Brien has authorised delegated authority to make a decision on the development application now that it has passed through the Department of Infrastructure and Planning information and referral process, which ran out of time yesterday.

Councillor Gerard O'Connell said if there was a possibility of council buying the site ratepayers could get an economic and environmental return if a joint-venture was put together.

“I'm not talking about creating Disneyland in there but something more sympathetic with the environment while stacking up as a sound business venture.”

Arkarra has a chequered commercial history. It went into liquidation a couple of years back when Lloyd Worland and Patricia Cowley owned it and were running it as a tea garden. A Chronicle search yesterday shows that the 7045 sqm site is now owned by Anderborn P/L and Britt Developments P/L.

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