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C.A.E. Properties is proposing to accommodate short term road workers in the building at 1 MacNaugton Place, Maclean. Image: Geoff Helisma

‘Backpacker’ accommodation for MacNaughton Place

Geoff Helisma | Clarence Valley Council (CVC) is exhibiting a proposal to build backpacker accommodation at 1 MacNaughton Place, the property CVC sold to C.A.E. Properties in September last year for $550,000. However, while the development application (DA) is advertised as backpacker accommodation, C.A.E. Properties is planning to use the space to house 13 “short term road workers”. The council’s manager of strategic and economic planning, Dave Morrison, said the proposal is advertised as backpacker accommodation because “it’s a fine line in planning definition terms with the style of accommodation uses”. He said accommodation specifically for workers concurs, in planning terms, with “generic residential accommodation, which is not permissible in a business zone”. However, he said “backpacker accommodation and other tourist and visitor accommodations are permissible; so the DA was lodged along those lines”. There is nothing to stop temporary road workers from staying at backpacker accommodation, for example. The application reasons that housing the influx of temporary workers will help ease pressure on the rental market in the Lower Clarence and the Clarence Valley in general. “This then has the potential to free up residential dwellings for local residents,” the applicant states in the exhibited DA. All of the proposed changes to the building are internal, which the applicant states will allow the space to be “easily” converted back to office space in the future. “We are making use of all the existing infrastructure of the building and providing better facilities internally so future office or accommodation use has better potential…,” the DA states. “The use of the building will be [13] individual bedrooms or units and then shared facilities such as kitchen, dining, and living rooms. “It makes use of the building in a very central location so it will be ideal for workers to interact and be social in the town centre community. “…In terms of economic impacts it will allow 13 occupants to live close to the town centre where they can contribute to local businesses.” The applicant states that, if approved, the accommodation house will “provide consistent employment for a local cleaner and real estate agent”. Parking will be catered for by existing onsite spaces and “on street” parking, the DA states. “No external elements of the building will change.” C.A.E. Properties director Ben Campbell said his company was still negotiating with owners of adjoining properties; ultimately aiming to develop something similar to what is envisaged in the Maclean Riverside Precinct Plan. He said that “offers on the table” had “moved forward, but there is nothing in concrete at this time”. Mr Campbell, who is a local man, said all trades and materials used to modify the building will be sourced locally. The vacant building is also being offered for lease at the present time. Submissions on the proposal will be accepted by CVC until 4pm Wednesday March 14.