The pub with no cheer; DA stalls for 18 months

By ADRIAN MILLER

ANNOUNCED in November 2004, the planned redevelopment of Yamba's iconic Pacific Hotel signified some of the biggest changes ever to the town's much-loved watering hole.

As many as 22 luxury bed-sitting hotel rooms and eight residential units are planned in the development, which would aim to satisfy the need for the high-end accommodation for which Yamba is becoming renowned.

Off-street, secure valet parking, a new reception area and a lift to take patrons to four new levels below the hotel would add to the elegance.

But, nearly 18 months since the plans were launched, the NSW Department of Planning has not made a decision.

Hotel proprietor Jack McIntosh has been left frustrated by the delay.

"I was hoping we'd have approval by last Christmas, but now were hoping to have it by this Christmas," Mr McIntosh said yesterday.

"(But) there's nothing we can do, we've got no recourse with the State Government."

Recent changes to NSW planning legislation means that under the State Environmental Planning Policy, the Planning Minister has responsibility for major tourist and industry developments along the entire NSW coastline.

It is this policy that puts the Pacific Hotel redevelopment under the control of minister Frank Sartor.

Mr McIntosh said he believed it was these changes that had held up his plans.

"They took this responsibility away from the councils because they thought they weren't doing the job and the irony of the whole thing is they (NSW Department of Planning) haven't got the staff," he said.

"Council are required to give you a decision within 40 days of an application, but there's no time constraints on the department."

A New South Wales Department of Planning spokesman said it was in the process of preparing an environmental assessment for the site, which would then need to be addressed by Mr McIntosh.

He said once the assessment was received, the department was bound by law to make a decision within 60 days.

Mr McIntosh said a decision couldn't come soon enough.

"Overall it will certainly be much more costly because everything keeps rising," he said.

"We are really anxious but our hands are tied."



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