VCAT approves $29 million Torquay development

February 24, 2021 BY

An artist's impression of the development at 85 Geelong Road, Torquay, seen from the corner of the Surf Coast Highway and Grossmans Road.

THE $29 million proposal on a vacant block in Torquay will go ahead, following a ruling at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The original application by Baines Torquay for a planning permit, lodged in July 2019, would transform the site at 85 Geelong Road into a six-theatre cinema with a total of 600 seats, a childcare facility for 130 children, a medical centre to accommodate up to 12 practitioners, a 7-Eleven service station, KFC and Zambrero restaurants, and a drive-through Bean Squeeze coffee shop.

The amended version submitted in May 2020 added a three-storey backpackers’ hotel with 56 rooms with associated restaurant and bar, as well as a single-storey children’s play centre.

The application received 55 objections during the public exhibition period – including from the neighbouring Lions Village, who were especially concerned about the impact of the backpackers’ hotel on their amenity – and only two in favour.

The council opposed granting the permit on seven grounds, six of which related to traffic and car parking, but Baines Torquay secured a hearing at VCAT due to the council’s failure to resolve the matter within the 60-day limit.

According to the VCAT ruling, published last week, meetings between the council and Baines Capital ahead of the main hearing in December led to the plans being revised in November, and the two parties then agreed to confine their dispute to the determination of the responsibility for, contribution to the cost of, and timing for the delivery of, external roadworks in Grossmans Road and Geelong Road.

In their ruling, VCAT senior member Phillip Martin and member Gary Chase found they were “unconvinced” by Baines Torquay’s evidence to impose a “no right turn” restriction from the site onto Grossmans Road, and thus the developer was fully responsible for the necessary roadworks for Grossmans Road. Baines Torquay will also pay half the cost of the Geelong Road mitigation works, once they are completed by Transport For Victoria.

VCAT’s draft planning permit also imposes a long list of conditions on the development, including at least 333 car parks; acoustic testing to be performed within a month of each of the cinema, hotel and service station starting operation; no more than 200 patrons allowed outdoors in the bar and restaurant, tables and seating for at least 75 per cent of them, and no live music; and the drive-through facilities of the take away food premises must not use external microphone and speaker point of ordering systems.