Luxury resort

The Mt Barker Council’s Development Assessment Panel faces a difficult decision today over the proposal to build an $8m luxury resort near Hahndorf.
The five-star facility, aimed at meeting demand from high-end tourists is, in the council planning staff’s own words, a finely balanced proposal.
It does not meet several of the planning criteria for the Watershed Zone, including provisions that stipulate tourism facilities should be small scale and set up in established buildings.
While the Promient Hill Resort is arguably small in capacity because it will only host up to 22 guests for overnight stays and up to 50 diners in its private restaurant, at 225m long it is certainly physically at the large end of the scale.
For local residents, this development proposal presents legitimate concerns.
It will be visible from neighboring properties, could increase local traffic and noise and some argue it could set a worrying precedent for future non-complying developments in rural areas.
On the flip side, as the SA Tourism Commission points out, the region has a real need for top-level accommodation.
There is an under supply of high end luxury accommodation in the area and an increasing demand among wealthy overseas tourists who are seeking out our fine food, wine and cultural experiences.
A facility of this level, while it may not be accessible to all tourists, could help market the region in the same way the exclusive Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island has done for that community.
The spin-off benefits of the Southern Ocean Lodge are felt across the island from its marketing might to its use of local food and other produce.
This kind of overseas investment in our region is also something groups such as the Hills and Coast Regional Development Australia body have been working to attract in an effort to boost the local economy.
With State Government, tourism and business heavyweights all leaning on the council to give this application the green light, there is certainly a level of pressure on decision makers today.
But whatever the perceived benefits, it is also the panel’s duty to ensure non-complying proposals which are judged on their merit meet the relevant planning requirements or have very good reasons for not doing so.