By Jess Baker
Stanthorpe could soon see a solution to its shortage of weekend accommodation in the form of a 24-unit motel, as plans for a major development have been given the go-ahead.
Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) approved an application from John Kearney to build a motel, manager’s residence and office on the corner of Rich and High Streets at an ordinary council meeting on Wednesday 14 April.
The development is expected to accommodate 62 guests at full occupancy and will take up 27.3 percent of the enormous 3976 square metre subject site, which is currently vacant.
Three different types of units will be available to couples and one type of larger unit will available to parties of four.
30 car parking spaces have also been proposed for guests and management, with one common point of entry and exit on the site to avoid queuing along High Street.
Mr Kearney said Stanthorpe was chosen for the location of the motel due to the high demand for additional accommodation for the town.
“The site is perfectly suited for a motel given the highway exposure and proximity to the town and its amenities,” he said.
“While the recent spike in tourism did not impact the decision for the motel, it is great to see and makes the project more feasible.”
Mr Kearney said he had been looking for a suitable site for a motel development for two years before he purchased the Rich Street site a few months ago. Plans were submitted to SDRC for approval shortly thereafter.
At this stage, it is unclear when construction of the accommodation development will begin but Mr Kearney said the project is expected to create and support local trades and businesses in the area.
SDRC officers noted two submissions, both objecting to the proposed development, had been received by Council at the April ordinary meeting.
Both objections cited stormwater drainage issues at the site and an expected loss of amenity due to high population density as grounds for objection.
The owner of a property neighbouring the site of the proposed motel, John Lancuba, wrote in a submission to SDRC that an increase in people, traffic, noise and cleaners’ vehicles next door would be unwelcome.
Mr Lancuba also noted the land the motel is proposed to be built on has a “major problem already with overland water from (the) hill behind”.
A second submission to SDRC by Stanthorpe residents Jenny and Darryl Blyth expressed concerns about the motel being a ‘Medium Density Residential’ in a ‘Low Density Residential’ zone.
“The zones have been applied by Council for good reason and this block of land is not at all suitable for this major development,” read the submission.
“There are plenty of other properties in the Medium Density Residential zone that are more suited.
“This design does not complement the existing urban character. The density is not consistent with the density achieved through existing dwelling house development in the zone.
“The design is not compatible with the density of the dwellings in the immediate area and streetscape character.”
Jenny and Darryl Blyth also referred to “major stormwater issues” on the sloping site and a number of traffic concerns in their objection letter.
Southern Downs councillor Cynthia McDonald said she expects the “theme” of both submissions, being stormwater drainage issues, will be addressed in a Stormwater Management Plan before the development can progress.
“I haven’t personally seen the block but one of my colleagues has and said that certainly (stormwater drainage) does appear to be an issue somewhat,” she said.
“I’m sure that will be noted and taken care of once we have the Stormwater Management Plan.”
Mr Kearney said the issues raised in the objections received for the site will be investigated and taken into consideration.