THE developers of a $13.6 million tourist and function centre at Bellawongarah are trying to address the concerns of local residents.
The Hamilton family has lodged a development application with Shoalhaven City Council for 42 accommodation units and associated facilities, including a restaurant and function centre, at the Rockfield Park property on Kangaroo Valley Road between Berry and Kangaroo Valley.
David Hamilton said the development would not be “a resort per se”.
“We are going to be more of a lodge – five-star, aimed at executives and their partners who want to get away from the rat race, relax and unwind.”
He said the aim was to target that business on Friday and Saturday nights.
“Certainly, we wouldn’t be able to survive on that alone and during the week we are looking at staging smaller conferences, 10-20 people at a time,” he said.
Concerns have been raised over the number of people at the development at any one time.
“The maximum that can stay here is 84 people. The function centre or conference room can only hold up to 120 people,” he said.
“At any one time, the most people we would have on the location is 120 guests and 20 staff. Saying we could have up to 250 people is nonsense.
“Yes, we will have the ability to stage weddings but the capacity of our restaurant would be 75, and the function area is only 120. If we did have a wedding or function on, the restaurant would not be open at the same time.
“If council wants to place a maximum number of visitors on the property at any one time, we are fine with that.”
He dismissed concerns the complex would take away trade from established bed and breakfast establishments, saying it was not the market they were pitching to.
“If anything we will provide further facilities for their guests – they would be welcome to use our restaurant and not have to travel up and down the mountain for a meal,” he said.
Increased traffic was a major concern to residents.
“Sure, the access road is not one of the best in the Shoalhaven but it is a major tourist road,” he said.
“It is classed as Tourist Road 7 and used as a trade route from Berry through to Kangaroo Valley and the Highlands.
“We believe the increase will only occur during peak hours – 7-9am and 4-7pm.
“We estimate maybe one extra car every one and a half minutes in that peak time.”
He said the family would try to gain eco tourist status but the proposal cannot be considered until it has been built.
“It will not be a big, elaborate complex; it is just going to be 13 pod-like areas – all up, we will use just 10 per cent of the overall property.”
He said concerns about bushfire danger, noise, water supply and distribution of treated effluent were also being addressed with Shoalhaven City Council.
If approved work would start within four months and take around 12 months.
A decision on the development will be made by the Joint Regional Planning Panel.