'Exorbitant' fees threaten aged care living project
PLANS to turn a CBD hotel into pensioner accommodation could collapse because the developer says they have been slapped with "exorbitant" infrastructure charges.
Edamgrove Pty Ltd is uncertain if it will go ahead with its Harbour City Motel redevelopment, after it faced a $282,112 infrastructure charge from the Gladstone Regional Council for its development application.
The fee could be reduced to $141,556 under a discount scheme, but company director Cos Schuh said even the revised amount was "exorbitant".
Mr Schuh said after closing the hotel in December 2018 due to the departure of its lessee, the company shifted its focus to fill a need in the Gladstone region, retirement living.
The company has lodged a development application for a material change of use to turn the 28-room William St motel into a 28-room retirement accommodation facility.
Mr Schuh said questions to the council about the charge had gone unanswered and he did not understand why it was so high, given the property would not need additional services such as sewerage or water.
"We're not asking for the council to contribute anything more than what they already contribute, so it seems to belie logic that they would want to generate so much income out of this when they are simply processing an application," he said.
Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett said via a spokesman the infrastructure charge was based on the proposed use class, with a credit applied for the existing use.
Asked if the council would consider reviewing or lowering the charges, Cr Burnett said, "any decision to vary from the adopted policies is to be made by the council".
The project is eligible for the 50 per cent discount on infrastructure charges under the Incentive Charge Economic Development Incentive Scheme.
Insite SJC Town Planners and Surveyors town planner Randall Barrington, who prepared and lodged the application, said they believed the project would fill a gap in the region's social infrastructure.
"Gladstone's aged pensioner population grew by 22 per cent between 2013 and 2018," Mr Barrington said.
"Most councils want to see low-cost accommodation being provided for this disadvantaged group."
The facility has an on-site swimming pool, dining area and games room.
If the project goes ahead, it would be managed by an accredited service provider.
Mr Schuh said they also disagreed with one of the 14 conditions of the council's approval, that the developer must complete streetscaping outside the motel.
The company requested for the condition to be removed, but the council declined.
"Why would we be asked to do something that is ultimately council's responsibility?" Mr Schuh said. "If the council wants to beautify Gladstone, let me suggest that they probably should have done that 10 years ago when the economy was buoyant, rather than now when CBD businesses are struggling."
Mr Schuh said they were happy to pay a "fair" infrastructure charge, and if offered they would complete the streetscaping as per the approval.