A COMMUNITY meeting against the proposed Barham River Road resort is set for tomorrow (Friday), as the Colac Otway Shire officially hands off planning responsibility for the $70 million development.
The proposal, which would create a resort with 380 rooms, 222 villas, accommodation for 40 staff and a retail precinct, has been divisive in the Apollo Bay community, and the Otway Forum has convened a meeting to express concerns about the application.
Otway Forum secretary Pete Fillmore said Colac Otway shire acting chief executive officer Rob Dobrzynski and planning consultant Brydon King would be attending the meeting.
He said Ocean United Investment Group (the developer behind the application) had also been invited, as had all local, state and federal politicians.
He said “barring unforeseen circumstance”, Corangamite federal member Sarah Henderson and Labor candidate Libby Coker would attend, as would Polwarth MP Richard Riordan.
Ms Coker said the region “did not want to be another Gold Coast”.
“We must protect our region’s point of difference – our region’s natural beauty, our magnificent coast and hinterland and low-scale development be it in Apollo Bay, Torquay, Anglesea or Lorne.
“I also question the need for the development to have a significant retail precinct with a grocery, pharmacy, restaurants and bars, when the Apollo Bay shopping precinct is only 3.6 kilometres away.”
An association of people objecting to the development has already signed up more than 1,000 members, with 90 per cent permanent residents or ratepayers in Apollo Bay.
In November, the shire announced it would request Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne to call in the planning application, and this week welcomed Mr Wynne’s decision to do so.
“Under a call-in scenario, the Minister establishes an independent expert panel of planners. Its purpose is to give all parties a fair and equal hearing regarding the proposal,” Colac Otway mayor Joe McCracken said.
“This will mean that all community members, associations, clubs and interested parties can make a submission and speak to that submission at the planning panel.”
Friday’s meeting will be held at the Apollo Bay Youth Club, Moore Street, Apollo Bay, from 4-6pm.