A contentious plan to build accommodation besides Launceston's Colonial Hotel was given the green light by the city's councillor yesterday.
The $8 million development will build 38-units to the existing hotel for visitor accommodation approved by a majority of councillors.
The project had drawn the ire of neighbouring residents during the public exhibition phase, with the majority of the 17 submissions expressing concerns over the impact of their amenity and the surrounding streetscape.
The application had already undergone significant changes by the Tasmanian Heritage Council to make it compliant to the planning scheme, including the changes to roof, window design and new red brick frontage.
Councillor Hugh McKenzie was adamant that the council should support the "big change" due to the planning officers recommendation.
"The reality is we've got skilled planning officers that have looked at it in the balance of the planning scheme that we've got," he said.
"This is deemed to actually meet and fit the terms of the planning scheme subject to the amendments that have been approved.
"We have to trust people who actually know more about this than we do."
Councillor Rob Soward raised concern that if the council did not approve the application, it would open up the possibility of an appeal to the Resource Management Appeals Tribunal.
We get criticised all the time for spending money we shouldn't be spending,- Cr Rob Soward
"The ratepayers could quite rightly say 'what are you doing refusing a compliant application' and wasting $50-60,000 of ratepayers money [on a RMPAT appeal]."
The Colonial Hotel project is one of several tourism-based projects to have gone before the council in recent months like the proposed Gorge Hotel development.
Launceston's lack of tourist accommodation was noted with councillor Andrea Dawkins expressing these projects could signal a change in Launceston's make-up.
"I think we have to accept this is going to be part of our Launceston landscape," she said.
Councillor Tim Walker was unconvinced by the development, which needed "improvements".
"I am reluctant to support this development application ... I can see a number of improvements that can and hopefully will be made," he said.
I have no assurance that will be done to the satisfaction of myself and representors in the area and people in our community that are fierce defenders of our heritage- Cr Tim Walker
The changes made by the Tasmanian Heritage Council and the suggested amendments from the council caused some debate amongst the council.
Cr Walker moved a motion to lay the application on the table which would have enabled the council to ask the applicant for more time to consider the DA and those changes.
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However, the motion had an approval deadline of July 16 and if council failed to get that extension granted, the application would have been automatically approved due to the council officers recommendation.
The motion was defeated with all councillors bar Crs Walker and Paul Spencer voting against the motion.
It is understood the $8 million project is expected to begin construction within a year and estimated to need two years for completion.
The original motion was passed with majority with Cr Walker and Cr Spencer voting against the motion.
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