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Owners of hinterland farm apply for approval to operate wedding venue

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The owners of a 22-hectare hinterland farm have made an application to gain retrospective approval to operate a wedding venue on their property.

Husband and wife Nathan and Kirby Crook purchased the property at 1841 Eumundi-Kenilworth Road, Belli Park, in August 2021 and say they immediately began the process of gaining approval to run events there.

A town planning report, submitted as part of the development application, says “more recently a function facility has begun operating on the site”, with an “American-style barn” and associated deck being added for wedding receptions at the venue, which is known as Carrington Estate.

But last month they were issued with a show cause notice by Sunshine Coast Council, which alleged they lacked the appropriate approval to operate a wedding venue.

“We engaged with council and town planning prior to or around about when we purchased and we’ve been on the journey since then,” Mrs Crook told Sunshine Coast News.

“All the reports and all the surveying and everything has been going on since, so the intention is to get everything done but it’s just been a longer process than we ever anticipated.”

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A council spokesperson confirmed a show cause notice was issued in May.

“Council received an inquiry regarding the use of the property located at 1841 Eumundi-Kenilworth Road, Belli Park, in February 2024,” they said.

“Through investigation and communication with the property owners, it was determined that the property did not have the appropriate development approval for the use being carried out.

The American-style barn and deck.

“Council has been working with the property owners to ensure the use of the property is lawful, and through the show cause notice issued on May 9, advised that a development application was required to be submitted to council.

“In response to council’s show cause notice, the owners lodged an impact-assessable development application for a function facility, which was received on May 20.”

Mr and Mrs Crook said they first engaged a town planner in June 2021 regarding the use of the property. That was followed later that year, after they bought the property, by further meetings with the town planner and council representatives, as well as geotechnical and flood engineers.

Noise, bushfire and land management assessments, engineering plans and traffic reports have also been completed at various times since 2022.

“I think we’ve got all the boxes ticked now so it’s just the waiting game for the piece of paper with a DA approval at the end of it,” Mr Crook said.

The town planning report, by Adams and Sparkes Town Planning, outlines the history of the property, which is zoned rural.

“The subject site has historically been used as a residential property containing a dwelling house, associated sheds, horse arena and rural paddocks,” it states.

“More recently a function facility land use has begun operating on the site to offer elegant rural weddings on the property, with the existing dwelling used primarily as a bridal dressing room and for pre-wedding activities.

“The applicant has upgraded the property to include an American-style barn (which was finished in early 2023) with an associated deck for wedding receptions.”

An aerial view of the buildings on the property.

Mr and Mrs Crook said they became interested in hosting functions after their own wedding in 2018.

They said they hoped the retrospective application would be approved so they could share their property with others.

“We’ve been with the town planners since before we even looked at a property, and they’ve let us know what we need to do and we’ve been ticking those off as we go,” Mrs Crook said.

The site has a frontage of about 310 metres to Eumundi-Kenilworth Road. It has an existing dam in the north-west corner, which is used for some ceremonies and photos.

The Crooks have also introduced rehomed animals including horses, cows and alpacas.

“We live on this beautiful property and we just want to create a bit of a community feel out there and make a positive impact on the community and local businesses,” Mrs Crook said.

The town planning report gives more insight into how weddings are run at the property.

“The existing function facility primarily operates as a wedding venue targeted at boutique hinterland weddings within an American-style barn,” it states.

The barn, which was finished in early 2023.

“The typical events held on site are boutique weddings, which generally cater for a maximum of 150 people. Functions are generally held on site once a week, mostly over the weekends.

“Weddings generally commence around 2pm and conclude prior to 10pm, with the associated operations commencing on site after 10am. Associated operations include setting up for events, persons arriving to site, delivery of ‘portaloos’ as well as end-of-evening departures and pack up of portable catering facilities etc.

“Guests attending a wedding or function onsite will be advised to arrive and depart the venue on a bus organised and supplied by the host. This will minimise any parking and transport-related issues and allow ease of access and egress when attending a function at the site.

“The operator of the function facility only provides the venue, with all other elements including any marquee, catering facilities, celebrants etc being outsourced.”

The application does not propose any new permanent or temporary structures.

“The assessment of the application will be carried out against the relevant provisions of council’s planning scheme and requirements under the Planning Act 2016,” the council spokesperson said.

“This application is impact assessable. Public notification will be required to enable the community to submit any concerns or feedback about the proposed function facility.”

Details on the development application for a material change of use to establish a function facility and associated operational works (engineering works) can be viewed on the council’s development.i website (MCU24/0126).

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