THE $70 million plan to build a resort in Apollo Bay is off the table, with Planning Minister Richard Wynne refusing to give the project a planning permit.
The original planning application for the 256-room resort on Barham River Road generated more than 155 objections and only about 10 submissions of support.
The Planning Minister called in the application from Oceans United Investment Group late last year at the request of the Colac Otway Shire and appointed an independent planning panel to assess the development’s merits.
In their report, the panel stated the application “would meet a demonstrated need for high quality luxury accommodation in the region in line with planning policy” but concluded overall that it “would not result in net community benefit or sustainable development”.
After considering the panel’s recommendations, Mr Wynne decided the proposal should be rejected due to its excessive scale and its impact on the landscape and environment.
Other grounds for refusal were inadequate responses to landslip risk, flooding risk, threat of bushfire, threat to biodiversity and vegetation and buffering of waterways.
“We want to see coastal towns like Apollo Bay grow sustainably, so it’s crucial to protect them from inappropriate developments that threaten the iconic landscape of the Great Ocean Road region,” acting Planning Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.
Secretary of ratepayers group Otway Forum Pete Fillmore said the rejection was “now a line in the sand for development in this area”.
“The community is not against development but it must be sustainable, appropriate for the zoning, and most importantly acceptable to the expectations of the majority of the current community.
“Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been wasted by the community, the council and the planning ministry and the developer/speculator on a proposal that should never have passed the very first meeting.”
Polwarth Liberal MP Richard Riordan likewise criticised the process.
“This government has identified an urgent need for more than 3,000 four- and five-star hotel beds for the Great Ocean Road region,” he said.
“The Andrews Government is spending millions working with developers and having private companies spend millions with an expectation of a viable project, only to have another arm of government knock back the project on grounds that should have been recognised much earlier in the process.”