RESIDENTS of Wallaville are mobilising to fight plans to convert an old church in the town into a backpackers' hostel.
RESIDENTS of Wallaville are mobilising to fight plans to convert an old church in the town into a backpackers' hostel. Mike Knott

Backpacker hostel causes uproar

RESIDENTS of Wallaville are mobilising to fight plans to convert an old church in the town into a backpackers' hostel.

Submissions on the plan, which would convert the church into a 16-bed hostel, have been called for.

But a group of Wallaville residents who held a meeting in the town yesterday have vowed to stop the proposal.

Resident Jenny Dowle said there was a lot of genuine concern.

Mrs Dowle said one of the main concerns was that the church was right across the road from the primary school.

"There is great concern because these backpackers can wander around quite scantily dressed, and they hold parties," she said.

Mrs Dowle said there was also concern the school buildings could be vandalised.

The company behind the proposal is Jaxview, which has engaged Insite Strategies to handle the application.

It has said in its application that "the proposal is relatively inconspicuous and is likely to have no significant impact on village amenity".

Nola Offord, who is the co-operator of the Wallaville Hotel, said she did not believe there was any need for more backpackers' accommodation in the town.

Ms Offord said the hotel already catered for backpackers, with 30 beds available.

She said she did not see any need for more beds, since her backpackers' accommodation had been empty for the past five weeks.

She was also concerned the building was opposite the school.

"I don't see any of these proposals containing provision for an onsite manager's residence," she said.

"That means there will be no onsite supervision."

Ms Offord said she was worried some backpackers could get out of hand.

"It will affect neighbours and their children with the smoking and the drinking," she said.

"I know these backpackers; they work hard and they play hard."

Businessman Geoff Bentley said the community of Wallaville was collectively determined not to allow the proposal to go ahead.

Mr Bentley said "uncontrolled backpackers" would be disastrous for Wallaville.

"I've worked with them, and I've seen how they disrespect the community," he said.

Mr Bentley said the backpackers should be accommodated on a site in a commercial part of Gin Gin.

"They should be taken somewhere that's not in a residential area," he said.

Mr Bentley said the meeting yesterday was just the beginning of a campaign against the hostel.

"The whole town is totally opposed to it," he said.

CHURCH DEBATE: The Ryan Street Church in Wallaville which the residents do not want turned into a backpackers.
CHURCH DEBATE: The Ryan Street Church in Wallaville which the residents do not want turned into a backpackers. Mike Knott


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