AFTER unanimously rejecting the demolition of the historic Hotel Australasia in Eden, Bega Valley Shire Council has now been forced into a position that will see it go ahead.
On Wednesday, the council voted to accept a compromise decision allowing a retail development on the site to proceed, rather than go against Great Southern Developments in the NSW Land and Environment Court.
It was one of four options put to council.
The cost of litigation and the possibility the court could rule in favour of the developer’s demand for $480,000 in car parking costs were cited as reasons for choosing this option.
The fate of the 106-year-old Hotel Australasia was sealed in July 2013 when council decided not to list the building as a heritage item in the Local Environment Plan 2013.
Legal counsel Great Southern Developments noted neither the 1951 façade, nor elements of the early 19th Century structure underneath it, were heritage-listed items and “that position, over the years, has been a deliberate decision of the council”.
“The controls, read together with the plans, therefore contemplate the demolition of the building”.
Councillor Russell Fitzpatrick said it was “with a heavy heart” that he voted for the recommendation.
“Now is the time to cut out costs, we cannot go to court where we could be up for substantial costs in a win-lose situation we can’t control.
“I know it’s not ideal and I know there are people in Eden who will be upset, but we were elected here to make tough decisions and we have to make them at times,” he said.
Cr Keith Hughes voted against the recommendation.
“I accept it’s a potentially costly exercise being engaged in litigation at the Land and Environment Court.
“But letting this building be demolished and all the heritage it represents would be a retrograde step.”
The recommendation was approved 6-2.
Cr Sharon Tapscott declared pecuniary interest as she owns a business near the Hotel Australasia and was not present for the vote.