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No room at the inn: “This would be the fifth consent for motels that haven’t yet been built”

September 5, 2023


* Number of DAs submitted in Orange has dropped, but their overall value is up




By Peter Holmes


“The Orange community will shortly welcome the city’s newest main street hotel development with a commercial value of over $35 million to the local economy.”


So said a release issued by Orange City Council in June 2020, trumpeting the redevelopment of land next to The Village on Summer into a multi-storey hotel.

“The co-owner of BMPS 88 Investments, Paul Saunders, believes this development proves how eager Sydney investors are to get into the rural market, even in uncertain times,” the release said.



Image of proposed Summer Street hotel.

Just months into the Covid pandemic, Saunders was quoted as saying “the $35 million proposal comes at the right time as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease and the tourism sector starts to get back on its feet.

 

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"This proposal shows the potential pathway for future Sydney-based investors in rural New South Wales, injecting much needed funds into the Orange community".


He went on: “We fell in love with Orange right away. It is a town with great history, excellent food and extremely talented winemakers and we are really looking forward to working with the capable team at Orange Council to bring this great local gem to more Australian and international guests.”


Designs for former Tip Top Bakery site.

The statement, which included enthusiastic comments from the mayor at the time, Reg Kidd, and a local PR person, concluded with: “The new Summer Street development is projected for completion in 2024.”



More than three years later, nothing appears to have happened at the site, and it seems fanciful to suggest someone will be able to knock up a multi-storey, high-end hotel in the next 16 months.



The development is one of four approved by Orange City Council that are yet to be built.


And there is no guarantee they ever will be.



At a recent meeting of the Employment and Economic Development Policy Committee, council’s director of Development Services spoke about “current trends in the city”.


The minutes noted: “The former Tip Top Bakery site has been marked for an 80 bed motel with smaller rooms aimed towards the budget end of the market.


"This would be the 5th consent for motels that haven’t yet been built.”


Aside from the Summer Street development and the Tip Top site on Peisley Street, the other three are:


  • A 61-room motel that was to be built on Endsleigh Avenue on the western side of the railway line near the old DPI building (2020);

  • A hotel, motel and retail building at the old Australia Cinema site on Lords Place (2021, demolition underway)

  • Motel accommodation on a Nunns Avenue and Bathurst Road site (this land, near Orange’s Fast Food Golden Mile, comprises five houses and was sold in 2018 with DA approval for a 75-room motel.


Also, a four-storey, 105-room hotel “with associated facilities” on the Mid City Motor Lodge site on Lords Place (first submitted in 2016) has yet to be built.


A DA lasts for five years, but any amount of work on a site can qualify as the project being underway. This removes any deadlines. For example, a garage at one of the houses on Nunns Avenue has been demolished, meaning the work is underway and nothing more ever has to be done.


Meanwhile, the value of development applications in Orange in the 11 months to May 2023 was $183 million, according to Orange City Council papers.


There were 409 DAs determined by council in the same period.

Designs for Tip Top bakery site.

Council said that although the $183 million represented a $20 million increase on the previous full financial year, the number of DAs submitted was down.





At a meeting of the Employment and Economic Development Policy Committee, council’s director of Development Services spoke to the group about “current trends in the city”.


The minutes stated 30 to 40 DAs are lodged monthly with OCC. In May there were 90 outstanding DAs worth $97 million.


Approvals have a median assessment time of 41 days.


The minutes also addressed a “perception of slow development approvals” in Orange, and the introduction of a portal for DAs.



“Council were told that the portal would reduce assessment time by 10 days. It appears it has added 10 days or possibly more.”

By way of explanation, the minutes stated: “There are still significant skill shortage impacting on the recruitment of additional planners and health and building surveyors. Council will look into surveys with customers to identify other issues.”








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