By SALLY GORDON
PLANS are circulating for a multi-million dollar, family-run backpackers' hostel in the heart of Yamba.
The proposed Coldstream Street development involves a three-storey building, housing one street-front shop and lodging facilities for up to approximately 80 people.
If approved by the NSW Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (DIPNR) under SEPP 71 Legislation, the hostel will be the first of its kind in the Clarence Valley.
Applicant Shane Henwood, who helps run the Pacific Highway BP Service Station at Maclean with his family, had been sitting on the idea for years.
"I've been planning to do it for about six years but I haven't been able to find land, now we've finally been able to find suitable land," Mr Henwood said.
The Henwood family, who are prepared to invest their life savings into the project, recently purchased a 750 square-metre block, which sits alongside Yamba's Brooks' Bakery.
It is envisaged the first floor of the 'Yamba Backpackers' hostel will contain 22 rooms and bathroom facilities. The second floor will provide a two-bedroom managers' quarters, large communal kitchen, dining and entertainment area. The proposal also includes an observation and entertainment deck on the roof.
An excited Mr Henwood is confident the business will harness the benefits of an untapped tourist market on the Clarence Coast.
"Surveys on backpacker trends show that a single backpacker would spend 40 per cent more than what a family of four on holidays would," Mr Henwood said.
"Yamba is already a much-loved holiday destination, this facility will only enhance and be a positive addition to the area."
The Henwoods propose to establish their business based on the principles of one of the country's largest hostel networks YHA (Youth Hostels Australia).
The hostel proposal was submitted to DIPNR in December 2004.
A DIPNR spokesperson said yesterday the development application had been returned to the applicants because of 'insufficient detail'.
He said that if and when the amended application was re-submitted it would then have to be placed on public exhibition for 30 days.
The Clarence Valley Council and the public will be able to make submissions to DIPNR.