THE future is sweet for a chocolaterie in Bellbrae, with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) granting a planning permit for the project last month.
Based on a similar venture in the Yarra Valley, the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery will produce high-quality chocolate products and ice cream within highly DEAL landscaped grounds.
The six-hectare site at 15 Elkington Road is expected to become a tourist destination in its own right, will be open every day of the year except Christmas Day, and will have parking for more than 200 cars.
The project will create 57 full-time equivalent jobs, including six qualified chocolatiers, with its chocolate sourced from Belgium and all other produce to be grown or bought locally.
According to the report considered by the shire’s planning committee, it is also proposed that the chocolatiers will provide training to local workers, as there are no chocolatier training courses in Australia.
The Surf Coast Shire issued a permit in October last year for the chocolaterie, but the decision was referred to VCAT soon afterwards.
A mediation hearing between applicant Carolyn Grills-Harte and others and respondent Chocolate Destinations Surf Coast Pty Ltd was held in Melbourne on March 6.
In the hearing, before VCAT member SR Cimino, the two parties confirmed they had reached agreement about the plans, and that a permit for the chocolaterie could be issued subject to a number of conditions.
The new conditions are largely identical to the Surf Coast Shire’s original permit.
The appearance of the site from the outside will change slightly, with a 1.5-metre high earthen bund to be built along the east boundary and a 1.8-metre high timber paling fence to be built to the east and north of the car parking area.
Other modified conditions include the entry and exit of service and delivery vehicles, external lighting, the level of background and patron noise, and the hours of operation.