Developer takes fight for new Chinchilla service station to court
After councillors voted against the development for a new service station in Chinchilla, the land developer said he isn’t backing down and is prepared to take the fight to court.
At an ordinary council meeting in Chinchilla on Wednesday, January 20, all councillors voted in favour not to move ahead with the development application allocated for lot 202, Johnson St Chinchilla, along the Warrego Highway.
Watkins Group founder, and property businessman Philip Watkins said although he’s already spent $450,000 on the project, he is prepared to spend more after hiring lawyers, and said he will lodge an appeal with the council by Thursday, February 25.
“We are not stopping now, not by any means,” he said.
The born and bred countryman said he was beyond shocked when council voted against the development of the service station.
“I was 99.9 per cent sure it would go through because a service station had already been approved by council on the land in 2008, and we took that design and improved it, made it a lot smaller,” he said.
“I spoke with the council’s office in 2018 and was told it was a good idea, so I bought the land and engaged town planners.
“I also have approval from the State Government to build a road off the Warrego Highway.”
Mr Watkins said the Roadhouse style station, restaurant, and laundry facilities would be a great asset to the town by creating local jobs, injecting $3 million into local trades, and creating a safe place for truck drivers to stop in town.
“There would be 14 people working at the service station, chefs (and so on), and $600,000 a year for wages for people living in Chinchilla,” he said.
Some of the reasons why council decided against the application included; its proximity to residential addresses, increase in traffic to adjoining residential streets, it’s location in the Major Centre Zone as it provides no overriding community need to be, and that by running 24h a day it will not protect the amenity and character of the Major Centre Zone and the nearby homes.
Mr Watkins said when residents bought their land, they were aware there was an approved service station nearby.
“I also created a (60m) buffer zone between the service station and the adjoining property… the previous (successful) application had no buffer zone at all.”
“And the boundary which adjoins the residential area would have a two meter landscaped mound, so if the residents can’t see or hear the service station, I can’t understand how (it would be an issue).
“The traffic would enter and exit the service station from Johnson Street, which doesn’t impact the residential area - we commissioned expert reports that confirm this, and submitted it to council.”
A report into the application by council showed the project failed to meet seven codes within the council’s Planning Scheme (2017).
“The proposed development has been assessed against the requirements of the Western Downs Planning Scheme 2017 incorporating Amendment One, (and) it is recommended that the application be refused,” the report read.
Councillor Andrew Smith and Kylie Bourn did not vote on the decision due to personal conflicts of interest.