HUNDREDS of people have voiced their displeasure at a proposed resort near Apollo Bay, voting unanimously to ask the Colac Otway Shire to oppose the planning application.
Otway Forum, a local ratepayers association, convened Friday’s public meeting at the Apollo Bay Youth Club, which drew a crowd of between 200-300 people.
The meeting – attended by local, state and federal government representatives – was called in response to the shire receiving a planning application for a $70 million development on Barham River Road, which would create a resort with 180 hotel rooms, 82 villas, a wellness centre, a 25-metre swimming pool, bar and restaurants in its first stage.
Public reaction to the proposal has been almost entirely negative, and there was loud applause from the audience at several points as people spoke against the resort.
Remarks by Objectors Inc president Warrick Ballinger were perhaps the most popular, ending in a standing ovation.
“We need to ask: is this style of proposal the best possible solution? Because if it proceeds, the sheer overwhelming scale and size precludes all other options,” he said. “By suggesting that if the community lets this proposal slip through unchallenged, we can then come and play in the swimming pool or there will be a kickback of some sort to various community groups, the developer has seriously misjudged the value that we, as a community, place on our chosen home, lifestyle and the beautiful natural environment.”
Polwarth MP Richard Riordan observed there would continue to be pressure to improve facilities and accommodation for tourists, particularly from overseas.
“You can’t imagine it away, you can’t stop it,” he said.
“If there’s one good thing that can come out of this meeting, it’s working more strongly with the shire so it is very clear about what types of development this community is prepared to accept, and what types are out of the question.”
The shire has successfully asked Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne to call in the application, but Corangamite federal member Sarah Henderson believed the shire should have retained planning control and gone through the normal VCAT process, which would “give the community the maximum opportunity to have its say”.