Council gives Shoreline $4.4 million discount

Redland City bills the most (click to enlarge)

Redland City bills the most
(click to enlarge)

Many ratepayers wonder why they pay so much to the Redland City Council.

Average residential rates in the Redlands are the highest in south east Queensland, according to a report in the Sunday Mail earlier this year.

But developers seem to do quite well in negotiations with the Redland City Council.

Shoreline was able to get a $4.4 million discount on the assessment fees for its proposal to develop a 4,000 dwelling town in Southern Redlands. That is a 96% reduction on the standard charges which would have been $4.6 million.

The project’s developers (Fiteni Homes and Fox and Bell) will only have to pay Council $175,520.

Shoreline Project

Sign inviting comments on the Shoreline Project

Sign inviting comments on the Shoreline Project

The Shoreline project proposes to re-zone a significant area of the southern Redlands rural and agricultural landscape into a new 4,000 dwelling township. The estimated value of the proposed new housing stock is about $2 billion.

A number of questions have been raised about the Shoreline Project.

Shoreline advertised its development proposal in October. The public can lodge comments with the Council up until Friday 28 November.

Assessment of Applications

Road upgrades are an issue

Road upgrades are an issue

Council’s Material Change of Use Fee Calculator can be used to find out the standard charge for assessing development proposals. Charges are influenced by factors including the type of assessment (code or impact) and the area of land.

Assessing a proposal for a huge project like Shoreline should be a complex task requiring expertise in town planning and many other disciplines. A large number of documents have to be reviewed and checked for compliance with planning regulations. The Council’s webpage for the Shoreline application shows that there are already about 200 documents lodged (see Redlands City Council PD online MCU013287).

Council’s efforts in assessing and dealing with this application are likely to extend well beyond the analysis of 200 documents. There will most likely be discussions and negotiations with the project proponents and with State Government departments.

If Council is doing its job properly, for a proposal of this scale it may need to conduct its own studies to ensure that the public interest is being safeguarded. This could include investigation into issues like road traffic and the need for major upgrades of road infrastructure.

Council gives Shoreline discount

Shoreline developer gets $4.4M discount from Council

Shoreline’s Garry Hargrave and Redland City Mayor Karen Williams at a Business Awards function in 2012

Shoreline’s $4.4 million (96%) discount in assessment fees was approved under delegation. It seems reasonable to question why decisions of this magnitude are not made by the Council at General Meetings open to the public.

Council’s schedule of Fees and Charges for 2013-2014 includes (on page 23) this list of criteria for discretionary discounts in assessment fees:

  1. Level of assessment–including applicable zones and overlays
  2. Likelihood of submissions objecting to the proposal
  3. Intensity, scope and scale of proposed development
  4. Number of referral agencies and complexity of referral triggers
  5. Complexity of the technical requirements in support of the applications
  6. Anticipated workload
  7. Political and community interest sensitivity
  8. Total calculated fee according to schedule compared with fees for similar applications in Redland City
It goes on to note that all discounts and fee waivers are to be recorded in the Fee Discount Register maintained by the General ManagerCommunity and Customer Services Department.

The following information was sourced from Council’s Register of Discretionary Discounts – Approved / Refused 2013/14

MCU013287 Planned Community “Shoreline” Southern Redland Bay (approximately 300ha)

Prescribed Fee: $4,617,962.50

Discount: $4,462,462.50 ( 96%)

26/06/2014 – Memo [name of officer withheld by Redlands2030] Summary – The proposed development involves a development application for a preliminary approval overriding the planning scheme for a master planned community at southern Redland Bay. The developers have indicated that they are seeking to lodge the development application on 30 June 2014. Under Council’s 2013/14 Fees and Charges Schedule, this type of application would require payment of an excessive application fee. The applicant has requested a fee reduction. It is recommended that a fee reduction be approved, and an application fee of $175,520 be required.

Background – The southern Redland Bay area had been included within an Investigation Area under the SEQ Regional Plan 2005-2026, however was removed from this designation and placed into the Rural Landscape and Rural Production Area in the SEQ Regional Plan 2009-2031. The land remains within an Investigation Zone within the current Redlands Planning Scheme 2006 (RPS). Upon placement within the Investigation Zone, Council conducted a number of studies into the orderly development of the area.

Shoreline’s Fee Reduction Agreement

The exact arrangements for Shoreline’s discounted assessment fees were detailed in a Fee Reduction Agreement executed by the Council CEO.

Post Update 7 December 2014

In a comment to this post and elsewhere, the Redland City Council stated on 2 December 2014 that:

A social media report suggesting that Redland City Council has granted a developer a 96 per cent fee “discount” is grossly misleading and ignores significant facts, including Council’s obligations under the Local Government Act.

The information regarding a fee discount published by Redlands2030 in the above post “Council gives Shoreline $4.4 million discount” is factual, accurate and correct having been sourced from Council’s own records.

In the post, Redlands2030 includes reference to the relevant part of Council’s Schedule of Fees and Charges which provides for discretionary discounts. All of the Council’s criteria for discounts were listed in full.

Redlands2030 does not suggest in this post that Shoreline should have been charged the full scheduled fee of $4.6 million.

Redlands2030 does however question whether the actual fee set by Council is appropriate and sufficient.

Council’s comment draws attention to councils’ rights and obligations under the Local Government Act 2009 in relation to charging fees. For example the Council states:

Council’s ability to charge fees is prescribed under Section 97 the Local Government Act 2009, which stipulates that the fees it charges must be for cost recovery only

Redlands2030 agrees that discussion about Council’s imposition of fees and charges should be informed by an understanding of applicable legislation including a careful reading of Section 97 Cost Recovery Fees in the  Local Government Act 2009  (commencing on page 92).

Redlands2030 has sought further information from Council about the fees charged to Shoreline for this application and the basis for determining these fees.


Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email

23 thoughts on “Council gives Shoreline $4.4 million discount

  1. All this was worked out ages ago, no matter what happens it will in the end get a big tick from our favourite developers friend Jeff Seeney, (unless we kick them out) It goes like this, the planners might say yes or no, the council might say yes or no, some councillors will abstain from voting because they took donations from the developer. Then either way we will be told we will lose in court and the council can not afford the costs, the council will ask the minister to decide and BINGO, you all know the rest. This is what happened with the Barro Superquarry at Mt Cotton. For 7 years the LNP said a vote for us and we will bury the Superquarry,even the member for Redlands Peter Dowling attacked the Labour party for years for allowing the quarry to presede and we all know what happened. How can anyone trust this government to save our environment when 11,000 petitions and submissions said NO, with only 25 in favour to the quarry. By the way in case you did not know, it was the same Gary Hargraves that sold the beautiful Mt Cotton site to the Barro Group with a 29 koala colony living there, (they will all die) It was sold while still under the Goss governments 1995 conservation and koala protection, So you see folks what you are up against, liars, money and backroom deals, and as the saying goes money talks in the end, unless the people get angry and get of their arse the 4000 houses will be built.

    • Luke you are so correct in what you say, many in this council are just puppets to the state LNP government and its deliberate legislation changes to enable and easy road for developers by locking out community consultation under the term red tape reduction. The community needs to wake up to reality before the next state election or we will be in for even worse dictatorial legislation.

  2. Councils response is interesting. A social media report? Why post it on this site and not on all the other social media options in the City?

    Perhaps Council should also take the time to explain how it decided to accept the Shoreline application as a properly made application given the land is NON URBAN?

    Now we know they read the post we don’t have to send a specific request!

    So did council accept the Shoreline legal advice?

    Does it have a separate Crown Law opinion?

    What does Crown Law say?

    Why won’t the advice be released?

    If it is as it seems to be, the Shoreline application is not a properly made application, why put the community through this angst.

    Once this is cleared up then the discount (which is as the fee reduction is described in the Councils own documents) might be an issue for further debate.

    Other applicants might like to comment on the “cost recovery” approach now being referred to. I have heard of fees like $65 000 for 3 lots and $50 000 for 2 lots and other fees well over the $175k for developments much smaller than 4 000 lots.

    Then again, how about cost recover for infrastructure?


  3. A social media report suggesting that Redland City Council has granted a developer a 96 per cent fee “discount” is grossly misleading and ignores significant facts, including Council’s obligations under the Local Government Act.

    It ignores the fact that Council’s ability to charge fees is prescribed under Section 97 the Local Government Act 2009, which stipulates that the fees it charges must be for cost recovery only.

    The $175,520 amount charged to the applicants for the Redland Bay Shoreline project was dictated by this legally binding objective. It also is not the only fee applicable.

    Council’s schedule for cost recovery is appropriate for most applications but the scale and nature of the Shoreline proposal and assumptions made about future uses led to a notional and grossly excessive figure of $4.6 million, which would not have complied with the Local Government Act.

    Section 3 of Council’s adopted fees and charges schedule makes provision for such circumstances by stating that: “Requests to determine an appropriate fee or reduce the application fee when a strict application of the scheduled fee is considered unreasonable or inappropriate considering the work required to carry out the assessment of the application, or where an appropriate fee has not been set, may be approved upon application.”

    Council was obliged to use the $4.6 million figure on its fee reduction memorandum under the provisions of its fee schedule. That figure was the result of assumptions made about potential future uses in line with the scope of this development. It is, however, substantially disproportionate to the actual workload for Council and therefore not compliant with the Local Government Act, triggering Section 3 of Council’s fees schedule.

    It should be made clear that any future uses on this site will be subject to separate development applications and will still be subject to fees in accordance with Council’s fees and charges schedule, again to recover the cost of their assessment.

    On this basis, and in order to comply with the Local Government Act, officers calculated an appropriate cost-recovery fee by estimating the workload to assess the application, the time required for officers to undertake their assessment and the subsequent cost to Council. This resulted in a fee of $175,520 being levied to the applicant.

    To give some context, the employee costs budget for the whole City Planning and Assessment group is $6.8 million. To levy one development alone $4.6 million for what would be a fraction of their annual workload would be clearly indefensible.

    It should also be pointed out that Council has also entered into a legal agreement with the applicant for them to cover the costs associated with external consultants should they be required.

    Incidentally, the $175,520 fee is higher than that which would have been charged by either Gold Coast City Council or Ipswich City Council for such a development.

    • Comparing our Redland City Council development processes and charges to the likes of Ipswich City Council, or the Gold Coast City Council, does not make me feel comfortable – it is scary actually.

  4. As I said befor, I am 90% set on running for election as Mayor to undertake an audit of the accounts AND the interests of all officials.

    I am a chartered surveyor with 30 years experience in the property profession, I may not be the sharpest knife in the draw but by no means am I blunt!

    I have NO affiliations to any group, party etc. I simply want to know why and STOP our councils rampant disregard for us, the residents.

  5. I find this discount and councils contempt for ratepayers offensive.
    I am considering standing for election as Mayor on the basis of undertaking a forensic audit of councils accounts over the past 5-10 years. Additionally I would make all developers pay the full cost. If they don’t like it then they can go to Logan or Ipswich. I would only offer any discount to encourage the regeneration of Cleveland CBD.
    If anyone is interested in mounting a serious campaign, let me know.

    • Kevin, I would support you running for Mayor at the next local government election just on the forensic audit let alone your other initiatives. It is interesting how all of a sudden this council can claim an extraordinary surplus to the budget, I think this is the very best of creative accounting or the reality in ripping off many rate payers in our community.

  6. I live in Redland Bay and am watching this whole thing unfold. I am not a developer, Councillor, state politician or Federal politician. Just a regular rate paying resident.

    In my opinion and from my perspective, this whole development is madness. Does this Garry Hargrave take us as stupid? Intersection upgrades and turning lanes solving the problem. Really?? I wanted to ask how this is working for the Redlands now. Right around where I live there are plenty of upgraded intersections and turning lanes and let me tell you… These do NOTHING to assist with traffic flow. Nada, zip, nothing… I experience it all the time. The upgraded intersections just turn into a slip lane for people to race up the side of you and then jam in front of you. That is all these intersections do, pure and simple.

    Over the past 10-15 years developments have gone in all over the place here in the Redlands. I for one do not believe increasing population will bring the state funding. I mean lets be real… With the development that has gone on in the Redlands, I am still not seeing adequate roads. So why do I believe what these politicians are saying? I don’t and hope to goodness that this Shoreline development (and other developments) are shelved for the foreseeable future. Our roads are not coping with what we have right now at this point in time, even after all the development that has taken place today.

    I have written to my local Councillor, the Mayor and the State Member about all this. The responses I have received have been somewhat lackluster at best. After reading this article here today, I am beginning to see why the Mayor is taking the line that she is… It is sounding to me that this local Council have an agenda.

    I encourage every rate paying resident in the Redlands to lobby our politicians about this issue. I feel that with sheer volume of people expressing displeasure, they will be forced to take note and put a stop to this nonsense…

    • YES. Steve, it is so true. Today’s politicians and council representatives are taking us for idiots. ‘Open for business’ simply means ‘closed for the community consultation’. ‘No red tape’ simply means developers can ‘take what they want at ratepayers expense’.

    • Steve
      I think you are on the correct line of thinking but keep in mind that The state member was a councillor and his brother in law has taken over his old council seat. Not that the state member has been found rightfully wanting he want his state seat… I’ll give you three guesses who will go for Div4 if he succeeds.
      The problem is that the quality,competence and commitment to the real purpose of government is only as substantial as the air it takes to say what the punter wants to here…. I’ll make a difference, yarder yarder , blah blah. It truth they are there for their own advancement in the party and to do that they need the support of the developers money. ( so much for morality and concern for the individual voter)
      The current member had a lack lustre career in council but was slick enough to be likeable to many. He has actually achieve 2 cent worth of nothing for his electorate… by that I mean no more than
      any other pollie. In short he talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk.
      To me I don’t give a toss how likeable a representative is I vote for them to do the bloody job for the people.
      The mayor is ideologically bound to the nonsensical philosophy that any development is good. Clearly it’s good for the developer and the mayor’s clique but not so good for the residents who have to live here.
      The problem is that the wrong people get elected because they’ll do the developer’s bidding.
      The previous Cr for Div 4 never saw a development he didn’t support.
      When he had his house warming most of the guests were the key developers and the party power brokers.

      • Oh yes if you are wondering why the councillors are so malleable to the will of developers consider this.
        When the previous div 4 Cr was elected by a squeek it’s costs was in the range of an average credit card but now it’s thousands more. So much so a candidate for say mayor has to go to those with deep pocket for donations. And who do you think would have something to gain …..developers and party hierarchy. It is their elections now the average person doesn’t have a prayer….even if he was on the level One councillor versus a majority of others were also funded.
        the one time the average person got up they threw out most of the development supported and do you remember what happened next election the campaign money tripled.

  7. If i was kindly disposed to this try-on outside the urban footprint (which I’m definitely not), I could see a case for lowering the fees in this exploratory stage. But surely it could have been handled by a deferral to be paid in full from future profits – which will be huge – rather than a discount.
    Ratepayers in the Redlands should all be asking questions.

    • Thoroughly agree; why should Redland Council hand these developers a huge discount? Council should not be playing fast and loose with potential income when our rates are continually going up. And just by the way, who asked the developers to “fix the steep hills”? many of us living south of those hills actually like them, and they certainly aren’t steep.

  8. Why should Council consider a proposal for urban development that is outside the urban footprint in the Redland City planning scheme and the South East Queensland Regional Plan? So why should council be offering a $4.4 minllion discount on a scheme that has not even been approved? thats the question. It seems that council is rushing this to the state to get the lands MCU changed, in case the LNP are kicked out of office in March. The people of Redlands are waking up to this pro development council. The trouble is it will be to late to do anything about all the approved developments when this council is back to a council who thinks of the residents way of life and not the developers way of life.

    • I am asking questions Luke… Trust me, I am asking questions…

      Problem is, a large number of people need to start asking questions so that the Local Council and State Government is forced to listen.

      Interesting thing about next year is that it is a state election year…

      People really need to speak up… This Shoreline development and what is going on with the approval really disgusts me.

  9. Don’t forget our Mayor and her Councillors are not the sharpest knives in the drawer!

    As such, don’t expect much out of the mouth of our illustrious Mayor that makes any sense!

    And we all thought our previous Mayor was as bad as they got ……….. Big mistake!

      • All giggles aside she went to my land old ladies exercise group and showed them how to yodel…. on our rate paid time. Funnily enough the old dear were amused but not inclined to vote for her.

  10. so the chant that the islands way back in 1970 paid no infrastructure fees when developed and that is why they have financially bullied SMBI ratepayers ever since ( and remember NO ONE even paid infrastructure fees then ,anywhere ) and even when the state paid the council the equivalent of millions in todays moneyin Adminstration fees to provide the SMBI set up they still cry but We need to make developers pay for their Zillions in profits!!!! WTF is going on!!!

    • Sam, president Putin would seem to have a lot more in common with the way this country is run in all levels of government. The mantra seems to be just look after the ones that make you rich while you are in power and bugger everyone else.

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