St Mary’s servo proposal deferred over safety concerns
APPROVAL for St Mary’s Hall tennis courts to be turned into a service station has been deferred by Southern Downs Regional Council until Friday after several councillors strongly objected to the planning conditions, on the basis of road safety.
At Wednesday’s council meeting, developers put forward a proposal to demolish the two tennis courts, squash court, and four buildings behind the local heritage-listed site to make way for a 3151sq m Mobil site.
Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley said the proposal posed worrying safety concerns.
Cr Bartley’s main issues were that entry only permitted from Wood St would increase the chance of accidents.
The councillor pointed to a past development case where an Albion St service station later had to change its turn-off point due to safety issues.
“There was a bank of cameras set up in St Marks’ churchyard to actually monitor the traffic movement and the near misses that occurred there,” he said.
“We’re allowing that exact same situation to occur and I’m sure history will repeat itself, because if you do nothing, history does repeat itself.”
He also feared nearby Acacia Ave could become a “rat-running” location for users of the servo, endangering the lives of nearby school students.
“That’s a two-way avenue, it’s very narrow, lots of children get picked up from there for school,” he said.
“You can turn left off the highway if you miss your entry into the service station but the next way round is to go down that avenue.
“I’m very, very concerned about that.”
Also similarly concerned about that possibility was landlord Ruth Friis and her husband Peter, who have owned rental properties on Guy St and Acacia Ave for 31 years, and made the only formal submission against the project.
“I’ve spoken with federal and state ministers, and all I’ve been told is to either get a lawyer or leave it,” Mrs Friis said.
“I shouldn’t have to spend a fortune defending it. I’m likely going to be left with three properties that I can’t sell or rent out.
“We already have so many garages in Warwick – I just don’t understand why we need another one, or why we need it there.”
Councillors Andrew Gale and Cynthia McDonald backed up Cr Bartley’s objections.
“This is our opportunity to make sure if a solution is required, that it is part of the development. It does not then become an impost upon the public,” Cr Gale said.
While council deferred the decision until those changes could be added to the plan’s other 55 standing conditions, there were concerns it would not be feasible within the “scant” timeline.
“We have some ability to give conditions, and staff have given the conditions that we can on Guy St,” a council officer said.
“If council are of a mind to strengthen those conditions, that’s fine, we can take that on notice … but we are going to have scant time to turn this around and it may necessitate a special meeting.”
Other conditions included sign height and the compensation for Guy St carparks that would be lost.