THE future of Stumps Hotel was in the balance last night with business owner Raj Sharma considering relocation.
Mr Sharma is a tenant but is in dispute with the co-owners of the building in Brisbane St over unlodged development approvals and rent payments.
Mr Sharma told the QT yesterday that he was recently notified by the Ipswich City Council that Stumps Hotel does not have the required development approvals to operate its function rooms.
He said the loss of income from functions would have a massive economic impact on his business and may force him to relocate. He said that when he signed his seven-year lease he believed the approvals were in place.
A council representative told the QT yesterday that "when the hotel was approved, it was approved for a hotel on the ground floor, upstairs was approved for offices… and downstairs, known as the cellar room, was approved for storage".
When the council was notified it was being operated for a different purpose "a show cause notice was issued to the owner… on July 22".
Ipswich accountant Greg Walsh is one of the co-owners of the building and said fellow investors had done everything in their power to resolve the situation with Mr Sharma.
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"It was established that we did need to lodge an amended development approval and we had no problem doing that," Mr Walsh said.
"In fact we had all the work done ready to have the situation resolved, but Raj continued to fail to pay rent.
"As a result of that the investors have decided not to perform any further work until that matter is resolved.
"We have tried to work very hard to come to a resolution with him, but every time we seem to have something in place he shifts the goal posts."
The Stumps Hotel Facebook page was in meltdown yesterday when Mr Sharma submitted the following post:
"The management of Stumps Hotel in Ipswich would like to advise that Stumps Hotel will be closing in the near future and is looking to relocate within the Ipswich precinct.
"The reason for the relocation is that it has recently come to the attention of Stumps management from the Ipswich City Council that the building owners of the premises did not have a certificate of classification in place that would allow the conduct of a hotel and function centre over the whole of the area being leased."
The post was later deleted.
"We stopped paying rent for those two areas, the areas that are in question from Ipswich City Council," Mr Sharma said.
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"There is no lift for upstairs. There is no fire escape. In the basement the ceiling is too low. There is no handicapped access. There are a number of issues.
"No way is there blame for anyone, but the commercial reality is that our business model cannot survive without operating the function rooms.
"We have already lost a lot of revenue, and we lose a humungous amount of revenue moving towards Christmas.
"But we will try and accommodate as much as we can in the restaurant."
The investors spent millions of dollars on the building. Mr Sharma is a tenant.
Mr Sharma said the bar and restaurant at Stumps would stay open.
He said he was looking at options for relocation.
"We are considering three options - one is Riverlink, the old TAFE building in Limestone St and also 160 Brisbane St."
Mr Sharma said his health had been poor for the past fortnight and the stress of the situation was taking its toll on him.
"We will continue to operate but financially it is very stressful, knowing the fact that we cannot raise revenue from the function room, which for quite a while we have not been able to use to the full extent," he said.
"Council has been absolutely supportive. They are just following the law, which is for everyone."
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