IF THERE was one thing last week proved, it was that people don’t like change – or even just the thought of it.
The Fraser Coast Regional Council gave preliminary approval to the development of Hervey Bay’s first 16-storey building last week.
The building, if it were to go ahead as per the application, would consist of residential units above a shopping centre and various food and drink outlets.
Posts and articles covering Council’s history-making vote were shared widely on social media.
From the comments, it is obvious many people are opposed to the development in Pialba. Even though there are many people firmly in favour of the development, they are just not as vocal at the moment.
People who are opposed to the development believe it will change the very nature of Hervey Bay and destroy what makes the town unique.
“We will just become the next Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast” was a common response.
Others are concerned about the potential impact the development will have on traffic, road infrastructure and parking in the area. These are all elements that the developers need to take into account.
People also questioned how Council would be able to supply water to the increased number of residents the development would attract to Hervey Bay.
However, this stance seems to be more of a veiled attack on the height of the development. As the number of estates and housing projects across the region continues to rise, there would need to be some form of future planning for the supply of water in any case.
It is important for me to state that I am new to the region. I do not have the long-term emotional attachment to Hervey Bay that some residents (rightfully) have. So, I am not opposed to development from a ‘what it’s always been like’ perspective – but I also moved here from a city with a metropolitan area of nearly 4-million people.
Hervey Bay’s seaside village feel is definitely a drawcard.
For me, not living in a concrete jungle is a major plus. It’s better for families and the smaller size of Hervey Bay means daily commutes to and from work are nowhere near the hour (in each direction) I used to spend in the car listening to music.
What is important is that all stakeholders work together to ensure their interests are met – and that fair compromise is reached when necessary.
The very nature of society means there will always be a diverse group of people living together and in close proximity to each other.
There is never going to be a situation that makes everyone happy.
What this proposed development shows us is the importance of working together and getting involved in public consultation processes.
If you’re opposed to certain elements of the project, get involved when the opportunity arises.
Sitting back and moaning in your lounge or at your keyboard will not help.
For those who are happy about the development and what it could bring to the region, be respectful of the fact that it will be a major change for many people.
One 16-storey building will not make Hervey Bay the next Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast – but be aware of the fact that people who chose to move here, or perhaps have always lived here, settled in Hervey Bay for specific reasons.
We need to talk to each other with respect when discussing the pros and cons of any development.
Social media makes it all too easy to insult and ridicule.
Development is inevitable and going up will relieve some of the pressure on natural environments and bushlands.
People who are opposed to the building because it is different to what has always been must realise the world is always changing – and even more so now because of the pandemic.
A business breakfast organised by the Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce last year heard that regional areas like the Fraser Coast would become more popular in a post-COVID world.
People (and their employers) now know many jobs can be performed remotely. Places like Hervey Bay will attract people who want a seaside lifestyle, but still want a career you would normally have to move to the big city for.
What is important is that development occurs in a fashion that provides value and purpose.
And part of the value in Hervey Bay’s case would be maintaining that coastal village feel.
Don’t go too big, don’t go too high.
There are many areas that should be left untouched. In my opinion, building high-rise apartment or office blocks on the Esplanade should be avoided.
The frontline buildings block any view of the ocean and one road back becomes unattractive to investors and residents.
Having said that though, there are also many properties on the Esplanade that need some TLC.
Perhaps modifying parts of Hervey Bay will attract people to the area who can revitalise these addresses so that the Esplanade and other key areas maintain their charm and charisma.
We need to find the right balance for Hervey Bay in terms of keeping up with development and maintaining the town’s feel and culture.
This could be achieved through architecture, keeping a certain percentage of the region undeveloped, ensuring native vegetation is incorporated into town planning and honouring the town’s historical buildings and centres when upgrading certain areas and precincts.