A multi-million dollar development application for The Berry Hotel is under review following community consultation, with big plans unveiled for the hotel's facelift. The application is estimated to cost about $11.5 million and included a three-story, 33-room hotel, featuring a rooftop pool, underground carpark and additional landscaping. The existing hotel front would retain its historic brick appearance, and internal spaces would be refurbished. The rear courtyard would be converted to an internal lounge-bar and dining area, and an upgraded sports bar and private dining room inside. Facing Queen Street, an outdoor dining area would be erected, including a new dining pavilion, kids play area and kitchen facilities. With initial community consultation now closed, over 350 public submissions were received, many of which suggested a more modest remodelling. Community consultative body, The Berry Forum held a passionate voice on the development and the forum's secretary Stuart Coughlan said community concern was clear through the sheer number of submissions received. "Most residents provided their support for a redevelopment of the Berry Hotel, provided it's done in a manner which is sympathetic to the town and its residents," Mr Coughlan said. "The current proposal has many flaws that make it unacceptable, and the hotel owners need to come up with a design that reflects the historic setting at the entrance to the town." Their core concerns included the outdoor dining pavilion and the new hotel facing Princess Street, which Mr Coughlan said neither were sympathetic to the town's heritage style. "[The new accomodation building] would just overwhelm the streets that are characterised by predominantly single story dwellings, and it would be directly opposite the heritage listed St Lukes Church," he said. The Berry Forum also believed parking facilities were grossly limited, risking pedestrian safety and upgrades to the sports bar would provide a worrying increase in gambling opportunities. The Berry Hotel was acquired by The Feros Group in 2023, and chief executive Simon Johnston said public submissions were being reviewed by their team. "At the moment, our consultants have reviewed submissions from the community and we're waiting for councils response, we can't make any decisions until we get a response back from council," he said. Upon settlement of the hotel in October 2023 the development plans were submitted to council. "The region holds a lot of opportunity for kids and families and these upgraded facilities would allow them to make better use of the space," Mr Johnston said. "For us, building a dining pavilion that has a really strong connection to family and food, with a kids area and some great activation elements for the main street is something that we feel is important." The group were eager to bring a fresh look to the hotel, but intended to respect the property's heritage value, which Mr Johnston said was evident in their team selection. "We were very careful when we first started this project to engage very experienced heritage consultant, John Oultram, who was responsible for the development of the heritage, conservation plan of Berry," Mr Johnston said. One of the initial focusses for the hotel's upgrades was improving existing facilities, which would allow for a significant service improvement. "The venue needs, from our perspective, a better kitchen and better back-of-house facilities that it can take to run efficiently," Mr Johnston said. Co-owner of The Berry Hotel and owner of Berry View motel, David Stubbs said the development also offered an opportunity for Berry and would alleviate challenges the region had with CBD based accomodation shortages. Mr Stubbs said with additional wedding venues appearing on the South Coast there was higher demand for Berry central accomodation, encouraging tourists to support the local economy, rather than staying in self-sufficient Airbnb's. "We've identified Princess street as a prime location to increase that supply and get people to cafes, to the shops and to-and-from all of these weddings, potentially safely," Mr Stubbs said. "If you have 80 guests at a wedding they can potentially come and stay closer to the main strip of town, which is where we want people to be safe and be able to spend money."