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Community & Business

15 May, 2022

Hotel project finally gets approval

EXTENSIONS to the Tolga Hotel and its car park have been given the green light despite more than 50 public submissions against the development.


The Tolga Hotel gets conditional approval to use Rail Trail land.

EXTENSIONS to the Tolga Hotel and its car park have been given the green light despite more than 50 public submissions against the development. 

The vast majority of the submissions were related to 1479 square metres of land which was part of the popular rail trail and surrendered by Tablelands Regional Council last month to allow for the extension of the hotel car park. 

Owned by hotelier Tom Hedley, the popular pub will be transformed by the redevelopment which includes extensions to the existing kitchen facilities and the bistro with a deck area and enclosed dining area, a children’s playground, additional toilet amenities, a designated outdoor smoking area, building improvements to enclose the existing drive-thru bottle shop, and a detached staff-room and storage building. 

The application for the project was originally made in May 2021 but was unable to be accepted because the developer did not have the consent to utilise the rail trail land. 

Because the application was not properly received by September and officers had observed building works underway without the necessary permits, a Show Cause notice was issued in November last year. 

Despite the development application being lodged that same month, officers then issued an Enforcement Notice, citing concerns about “a considerable amount of unsecured building material strewn about the site” at the beginning of the annual cyclone season. “It was conveyed to the applicant that the trigger for further enforcement action would be commencement of the use within the unapproved structures,” the report stated.

“In mid-March 2022, officers observed that the use of bistro area had commenced and, consequently, an Enforcement Notice was issued on 23 March, instructing the applicant to immediately refrain from committing a development offence pursuant section 163 of the Planning Act 2016.” 

At its recent meeting, councillors were asked to approve the development permit to allow the works to proceed, but Crs Kevin Cardew and Peter Hodge wanted changes made to the conditions in relation to the location of a boundary fence and spent some time asking questions of the planning officers before Mayor Rod Marti “called time” and pushed the matter to a vote. 

As part of the conditions on the development, shade trees must be planted to replace the mature poinciana tree that was removed near the rail trail, and written evidence provided to council that the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) has agreed to giving some type of tenure to the hotel over the former rail trail land.

Council officers indicated that negotiations with DTMR had substantially progressed. Concerns about headlight glare and noise were also considered, with live music only allowed to be played indoors and a 2m high fence to be constructed on the eastern side of the hotel.

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