Local National Trust branch opposes boutique Leura hotel

A proposal for a boutique hotel to be built behind an historic house on Leura Mall is out of character and will create traffic problems, according to the local National Trust branch.

Artist's impression in the DA with mature tree obscuring new hotel.

Artist's impression in the DA with mature tree obscuring new hotel.

As the site looks today, with no tree overhanging the left-hand side of the fence.

As the site looks today, with no tree overhanging the left-hand side of the fence.

The branch also disputes claims that the new building would not be seen from the street, saying that an artist's impression in the DA includes an image of a non-existent mature tree obscuring the hotel.

Coogee-based company Kingsford Property Developments has submitted plans for a 36-room, two-storey hotel with basement parking for 28 cars behind Culgoa, a 19th century cottage next to the fire station at the lower end of the Mall.

The DA said Culgoa would be retained and that the hotel would be built behind it so it would not affect the streetscape from the Mall.

But the National Trust branch did not agree.

Branch chairman, Rod Stowe, wrote to council: "It is clear from the submitted plans that these buildings will be visible from the street, notwithstanding the artist's attempt ... to disguise them behind a currently non existent, mature tree."

He was also concerned that the scale of the new building would "significantly compromise" the whole site.

"Indeed, in our view, the new development will overwhelmingly impinge on the historical integrity of this important heritage property."

The hotel designs show a metal-clad building with timber privacy screens. Mr Stowe said that was not in keeping with the historic buildings in the area.

"We ... find it disappointing that the design of the proposed new structure has not attempted to reflect any of the architectural style or materials of the late 19th century and early 20th century buildings that typify the Leura Mall precinct."

On traffic, the DA said currently the area was "free flowing without any major delay in peak traffic periods, with spare capacity".

The National Trust wrote: "[This] is certainly not the experience of local residents who use these roads daily. Council's own traffic studies show this vicinity of Leura Mall to be a very busy traffic thoroughfare with thousands of vehicle movements on both weekdays and weekends.

"Consequently, the branch submits that the increased vehicle activity generated by the proposed development, particularly in such close proximity to a busy roundabout, will have a serious negative impact on traffic conditions."

And it called on council to get better assurances about the fate of the historic Culgoa, which was built in 1896 as a country house for Sir William Cullen, a politician, barrister and chief justice of NSW, and his wife, Eliza.

"We believe that council should seek greater assurances about the future use and maintenance of this significant heritage item than the simple statement that it is 'to be used in conjunction with tourist and visitor accommodation'."

The DA public exhibition period closed on July 24.