Tourist cottages given nod at Storm King Dam
A NEW tourism operator looks set to enter the market on the Granite Belt, after the Southern Downs Regional Council approved new accommodation facilities on Eukey Rd.
Despite five Storm King landowners making formal submissions against a material change of use application presented before council last week, the motion was carried unopposed.
The new facility at 601 Eukey Rd is set to contain seven short-term accommodation cottages on 12 hectares of land on the banks of Storm King Dam.
The applicant hoped to house up to 24 guests on the property, but after residents' complaints, Gary Hayes and Partners Pty Ltd amended its application.
The proposed development will now house up to 18 guests, with a communal building to be constructed in the centre of the property.
SDRC manager of planning and development Cecil Barnard said an effective way of boosting the local economy was through quality tourism establishments.
"This proposed development may employ few people, but will bring a maximum of 18 guests to our region over a weekend," he said.
"The average spend of a roomed visitor is $210...this small development has the potential to bring and additional $3780 per day into businesses in and around the Granite Belt."
The submitters' primary concerns lay with effects to the water quality in Storm King Dam, proper water-waste disposal, increased noise pollution and the applicant's failure to advertise in a local publication.
"The unsubstantiated claims have been addressed in the report that went to council," Mr Barnard said.
"As this is most likely to end up in the Planning and Environment Court, council would not like to make additional comments on these matters."
Storm King resident David Bonner said it was the size of the proposed site that had locals offside.
"It's the scale of the development that sucks," he said.
"The plans show a big communal hall to be constructed. They say only people staying on the property can use it but it looks big enough to host a 200-person wedding.
"Who's going to ring the police when they have a wedding or a party?"
Mr Bonner and his neighbours say they bought land in the area for peace and quiet, spending large amounts of money to secure the exclusive blocks.
He disputed claims that residents were adequately consulted before the application reappeared before council.
The Sustainable Planning Act requires the applicant publish a notice "at least once in a newspaper circulating generally in the locality of the land".
The applicant placed one advertisement in the Warwick Daily News on May 4 with no advertising placed in the Stanthorpe Border Post.
"Who reads the Warwick Daily News in Stanthorpe?" Mr Bonner said.
"The town planner is based in Warwick, the applicant was based in Warwick, the motion was put forward by two Warwick councillors and the locals barely knew about it."
Fellow submitter Nev Winter raised the same concerns as Mr Bonner and said he was told a number of years ago that residents couldn't run a bed and breakfast on their land due to zoning restrictions.
"They said we could rent out property as residential, but not for a business like a bed and breakfast," he claimed.
However, Mr Barnard denied this occurred.
"This is false. Any person has the right to make an application...every application is assessed on its merits," he said.
All submitters have now been notified that the motion has been carried.
The applicant will now have the opportunity to negotiate the change of conditions in their application.
Once negotiations have concluded, the submitters will receive a Negotiated Decision Notice and will then have 20 business days to appeal the decision through the Planning and Environment Court.
Most submitters agreed their concerns had been listened to and the application changes were a step in the right direction.
"We would say our concerns been heard, maybe not heeded, but we live in a democracy," Nev Winter said.
"It's an improvement."
Mr Bonner said he would continue to protest the proposed project.
"It's not like I'm going to be picketing the council offices, I just think you've got to stand up for what you believe in," he said.