By Kate Taylor
A new service station, ‘convenience restaurant’ and community building is likely to be constructed in an area that already has congested traffic conditions.
The permit application for the Gisborne Road Bacchus Marsh site went before the February council meeting, with extensive debate over issues including traffic, noise and operating hours.
The original proposal was to build the service station and two ‘convenience restaurants,’ along with signage, a three-lot subdivision of the land and an access road.
A total of 31 objections were received and a public meeting between some of the objectors and the potential developer was held in August last year.
The body of objections stated another service station is not needed in the town; the effect it will have on local business; light spillage from the site; diesel fumes; the proposed 24/7 opening hours and four on-street parking spaces would be lost.
Increasing traffic congestion on an already busy Gisborne road, was also a major factor.
The site is the same that Bunnings proposed to build a store on back in 2015 however, that was abandoned because of 200 plus objectors.
Council officers advised the developers at the February meeting it would not be agreeing to the permit with developers responding they would be taking the matter to a hearing at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Council proposed an amendment that one of the ‘convenience restaurants’ be ditched in favour of a community-based building, with further proposals about extensive landscaping and acoustic fencing to limit the aesthetic effects of the site.
Speaking on behalf of the applicant at the meeting, Peter Doyle said they had agreed to delete the second restaurant, but that the operating hours remained a sticking point. Council did not want to allow trading to start from 6am on Saturdays and Sundays, as part of the already-made compromise down from 24/7 operation.
“We’ve put in over 12-months of work in relation to this project, and significant consultation with council,” Mr Doyle told the meeting.
“The project is a $5-million investment and 50 jobs, focused on youth employment. We’ve worked hard to find a compromise, and the deletion of the second restaurant has an impact and we are prepared to commit to the minor refinements.”
Cr Paul Tatchell argued the 6am start should be allowed because if the matter did go before VCAT, it would be likely to allow the industry standard of a 24/7 operation.
Objector Wendy Stubbs said at the meeting, “I’m not opposed to developing this site – I’m opposed to this development, it’s not appropriate.”
“This is a gateway to our town, it creates an impression of our town,” she said.
Following a lengthy debate about the development and VCAT, councillors voted in favour of the amended development – with Cr Bingham abstaining from voting.
A compulsory VCAT pre-hearing meeting between all parties has been set for April this year.