17 February, 2023
Developer denied payment plan
AN attempt by pub baron Tom Hedley to strike a payment plan for more than $108,000 in infrastructure charges for his Tolga Hotel redevelopment has been rejected by Tablelands Regional Council but he did get some joy on some of the conditions imposed on the project.
In a submission to the council, the developer blamed delays in council responses during the application assessment process, onerous conditions, and a lengthy process to get approval to occupy some of the Rail Trail corridor for the payment plan request.
“It will be some time before the Tolga Hotel will be able to trade its way out of substantial renovation overrun and onerous conditions,” the submission stated.
“This, in addition to the additional burden cost of installation and ongoing servicing maintenance of a new sewer pump station, installed at the owners (our) cost, installed to not only service the Tolga Hotel but also to eventually service multiple users and future users connection into the existing sewer rising main connections along the sewer rising main downstream to existing Tolga Town Tolga Pump station.
“All these occurred costs, maintenance costs and time delays has resulted in the request for the payment plan for the Infrastructure Charges Notice.”
It was proposed to pay the $108,000 in infrastructure charges over eight years.
“This payment plan is considered acceptable and appropriate as the pro-ponent has gone to a significant expense to breathe life back into the Tolga Township while improving the existing aesthetics and amenity, enhancing the active streetscape and resulting in significantly safer operation,” the submission stated.
But Development Services acting executive manager Kelly Reaston cautioned the council over agreeing to any payment plan, saying it would be “a significant shift” in policy, and could create a precedent for future developments which would have budget implications.
A report to council advised that if the payment plan was agreed to, it would be the first of its kind in the re-cent history of TRC.
“The only comparable arrangement is that granted to John Cole Toyota, which was a 10-year instalment plan (unindexed payments) captured by an Infrastructure Agreement,” it stated.
“As general rule, officers do not support infrastructure charge deferrals, waivers or reductions for ‘for profit’ entities where such arrangements would sit outside the scope of council’s charging policies.
“Aside from the fact that doing so may lead to council being unable to fulfil its infrastructure commitments under the Local Government Infrastructure Plan, council has this year adopted no less than three targeted incentivisation policies dealing with infrastructure charge waivers, reductions and deferrals, and the requested arrangement sits outside the scope of all three policies.”
Council officers also rejected that it caused delays in assessing the development application.
“Council processed the development application as promptly as possible given the complexities of the matter and the significant level of community interest,” a report stated.
“It is worth noting that the application was ‘not properly made’ for almost 12 months as the applicant failed to obtain the necessary State agency consent for the inclusion of the rail corridor land in the proposal prior to lodgement despite officers advising that this would form a requirement well in advance of lodgement.”
They also rejected the notion that the new sewer pump station would be used to service other properties in the area.
“The private pump station installed to service the hotel (and only the hotel) was done so at the applicant’s insistence before the application was lodged,” officers stated.
“The Tostevin Street pump station, which was installed as part of the Panorama Views development, was not installed with plans, by either the developer or council, to facilitate access to the rising main by other properties along the rail corridor.”
Mr Hedley did win on some of the conditions imposed on the project, including removing the need to install an awning on the Main Street façade of the bottle shop as it would look out of character with the heritage appearance of the hotel.