Councillors give Picton tourism facility seal of approval

Belgenny Farm is a similar facility located in Camden.
Belgenny Farm is a similar facility located in Camden.

Picton could soon be home to a tourism destination featuring restaurants, working farms, accommodation and function rooms.

Wollondilly councillors approved a draft planning proposal for a tourism development at 350 Barkers Lodge Road after a lengthy debate at last Monday's council meeting.

The controversial plan had been deferred at previous meetings due to concerns about a potential housing development on the site.

The original plans, submitted by Precise Planning on behalf of Mr D H Vincent and Mrs L Vincent, included a rural residential development to "mitigate the financial risks of developing the tourism facility".

Councillors were concerned that the houses would be built and the promised tourism facility would not eventuate.

However the developers agreed to remove the rural residential section of the plan.

The proposed facility includes an exhibition pavilion, guest accommodation, guest-friendly 'working farms,' 'paddock to plate' restaurants, education facilities for cooking classes and a wastewater treatment plant.

Wollondilly deputy mayor Matthew Gould said the development would be a huge boost for tourism in the region.

"I am keen for it - one of our big things has been to increase tourism in the shire," he said.

"This is a simple way of doing it.

"I think it also shows that you can do a nice thing for the area without having a housing development attached to it.

"I think it's strong enough on its own and will be quite successful on its own."

However councillor Judith Hannan advocated on behalf of the original plan submitted for the site - including the rural residential section.

"This is a chance to get a new tourism facility in Wollondilly.. .and [the proponent] is investing an incredible amount of money to get it up and running," she said

"It will create 300 jobs in the area.

"We're talking about 20-30 buildings on 4000 square metre blocks not 1500 buildings.

"This is something we have been craving for our area for a long time.

"I think we need to do what we can to achieve what we want."

Councillor Noel Lowry agreed with Cr Hannan.

"Three hundred jobs is a lot of jobs," he said.

"It would be a small rural residential development attached to what is very significant tourism and employment land."

However councillor Simon Landow said he could not support residential development at the site.

"It is out of odds with the area," he said.

"I can't support residential development in a rural zone - residential development should not be built on this site."

The Department of Planning, Industry and Enivronment (DPIE) also stated that residential development on the site was "not considered to have strategic merit".

The department's report said the residential proposal was premature and did not align with the Community Strategic Plan.

"Further residential growth outside the urban area of Picton is not considered appropriate in the proposed location," the report said.

Wollondilly mayor Matthew Deeth said the recommendation to approve the facility without the rural residential component was a better option.

"I think council staff have recommended a clear path forward - the path of least resistance," he said.

The draft planning proposal will now be sent to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment for a gateway determination.

This story Councillors give Picton tourism facility seal of approval first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.