“The design is very abstract”: Locals challenge council in court over new Barossa Valley hotel

A new $50 million, six-star hotel and day spa at Seppeltsfield Winery faces a setback by a group of locals, who have challenged the proposed build’s categorisation by the region’s council.

Earmarked to open in 2022, the new 12-storey Barossa Valley hotel, named after wine innovator Oscar Benno Sepelt, would make Seppeltsfield one of the world’s top five wineries, and create a national icon for South Australia, according to an April announcement by developers and the winery’s owner.

Among the fixtures of the property will be around 70 rooms, including suites and penthouses, with a private balcony for every room, and a sky bar on the top level with 360-degree views of the Barossa Valley.

The winery would also create 363 construction jobs and 350 ongoing jobs. However, a group of locals from the ‘Taming Oscar’ committee have opposed the property’s development, according to ABC News.

Travel Weekly has reached out to Seppeltsfield Winery and the Light Regional Council for comment. However, according to the national broadcaster, one local criticised the size of the building, which is much larger than others in the region, and its “abstract” design.

“The largest building in the Barossa is only about two storeys high, maybe three at the most, and this is an almost 51-metre building that would sit very, very high in the landscape,” Tracy Collins of the Taming Oscar committee told ABC News.

“For us, the reflective materials are a big concern and the design is very abstract.”

Collins told the national broadcaster that the Seppeltsfield community was welcoming of a development at the site, but hoped for one that worked with the landscape.

“It is purely the magnitude, the height, the fact that it doesn’t sit cohesively within the landscape, it isn’t sensitive to nature,” she told ABC News.

“To be honest, we don’t think it truly reflects Barossa culture. People come from the city with big skyscrapers and high-rises and come to the Barossa because they don’t see that.”

According to the national broadcaster, Light Regional Council received the proposal for the new Seppeltsfield Winery hotel in February and categorised it as a “tourism accommodation”.

This meant that only neighbouring properties were required to be consulted.

However, the group of locals argue the Oscar hotel should have been categorised in a different development category requiring consultation with members of the community and those “significantly affected”.

As such, two neighbours have reportedly applied to the Environment, Resources and Development (ERD) Court for a review of the development’s categorisation.

A Light Regional Council spokesperson told ABC News that consideration of the development application would be postponed until the ERD Court had made a decision.

The spokesperson added that developers could apply to have the council continue to consider the application while the matter was in court.

The council also said the nature of the process meant it was unable to investigate alternative designs for the building and could only assess the development plans as they were submitted.

Travel Weekly has contacted Seppeltsfield Winery for comment.

Featured image source: Vimeo/Seppeltsfield