Apollo Bay hotel axed, $250,000 at risk

From left, Apollo Bay Sailing Club members Tony Cookes and John Marriner with Apollo Bay residents Barbara Leorke, Robert Telford, Peter Fillmore and Rob Kanngieser in front of the site of a proposed boutique hotel.

CIVIC leaders risk losing $250,000 of government money after they ditched a plan for a boutique hotel at Apollo Bay’s harbour.

Tourism Victoria and the Department of Planning and Community Development pledged $255,000 in 2010 towards a planning scheme amendment process, which would include hiring a project manager and consultants.

The council had believed including a hotel in the harbour’s master plan would increase its chances of securing the money.

Mayor Stephen Hart said a classification from Tourism Victoria in November was “vague”.

“Vague comments suggest there might be some funding if council agrees to a hotel,” Cr Hart said.

“We will be sending a clear message to the council at this stage that the amendment is to have no hotel,” he said.

Councillors voted 5-2 to replace the area for the proposed hotel with “public open space” to keep the slope the same.

Council chief Rob Small said the council was talking to the government departments.

“The likely outcome is that we will not be able to use that funding for the planning scheme amendment process unless we can demonstrate a clear ongoing tourism-related economic benefit to the town,” Mr Small said.

“If this is the case, council will look at other ways of funding the amendment process from future budgets.”

Cr Brian Crook and Cr Frank Buchanan voted against the resolution.

“I hope it doesn’t damage our opportunity for funding,” Cr Buchanan said.

Cr Crook said the “public open space” resolution failed to provide enough protection from State Government intervention for a hotel.

“We could finish up with something none of us want to see if we don’t address this front-on through the amendment process,” he said.

Apollo Bay Sailing Club would have moved to make way for a hotel.

The club’s John Marriner applauded the council’s decision.

“I’d say there was certainly an air of euphoria among members of the sailing club after the decision was announced,” he said.

“The club was not happy about the prospect of having to move to a new building and the associated costs with that.”

Otway Forum’s Peter Fillmore urged the council to consider the forum’s alternative harbour plan.

“This plan has widespread community support, and meets all the objectives to redevelop the harbour precinct for public amenity and tourism growth,” he said.

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