A PROPOSAL to build a five-storey hotel in Torquay has drawn public backlash, but the developer says the project will provide as many as 300 jobs and ultimately create a community asset.
The Surf Coast Shire placed the planning application from Barnes Capital Pty Ltd for the 128-room hotel at 2-4 Geelong Road and 48 Bell Street on public exhibition on last week.
Referred to as Hotel Indigo in the planning documents, the $60 million hotel – to be built close to the roundabout at the start of the Great Ocean Road – is mostly three storeys but is tiered to four and then five storeys at its southern end.
It would also contain a restaurant, gym, indoor pool, function space, day spa and a roof terrace and bar on the third floor.
Immediate reaction to Hotel Indigo was largely negative on social media, and independent candidate for South Barwon Damien Cole organised a protest at the site the day after the planning documents became public, which drew about 50 people.
“The design of the building is a really nice design, if it was in Beijing or if it was in Dubai, but a five-storey, 17-metre hotel, to be overhanging one of our main trading streets there, in what is still a pretty small coastal community – it just doesn’t suit the coastal character of the town,” he said.
Labor candidate for South Barwon Darren Cheeseman attended the protest and also opposes the application, saying he was “outraged” when he found out.
“This is exactly the sort of development the community doesn’t want.”
Marty Barnes from Barnes Capital said he purchased the site in November 2017.
“We thought something iconic that had views over the golf course and the ocean would be special and really maximise the site.”
He said he consulted closely with the Surf Coast Shire on the proposal, which would create at least 200 jobs.
“They (the council) were saying ‘we’ve got thousands of visitors heading down the Great Ocean Road and not spending any money, get at them!’.”
Mr Barnes said five storeys was the minimum number to make the hotel viable.
“We could have made it a little bit bigger, but we’ve scaled it back to get bigger rooms and give it more amenity.”