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Report on Public Information Afternoon

Apollo Bay Harbour Re-development

The long running saga of the re-development of the Apollo Bay Harbour continues.

On Sunday January 23, 2011 a public information session sponsored by the Otway Forum was held at the Apollo Bay Golf Club.  About 60 to 70 people were in attendance.  Also present were the Colac Otway Shire CEO, Rob Small; General Manager of Planning, Jack Green and Councillors Frank Buchanan, Brian Crook (Mayor), Stephen Hart and Stewart Hart.

Prior to this the Council had released a Apollo Bay Harbour Precinct Community Newsletter dated December 2010.  The essence of the Newsletter was that the State Government had provided funds of $255,000 for the preparation of a planning scheme amendment that would enable the harbour development to proceed.  The starting point would be the recommendations from the Enquiry by Design process held in September 2008.  This was a four day workshop at the Youth Club Hall that itself was in response to the initial plans for the Harbour that received considerable public criticism.  While the end result of the EBD process was more acceptable to the community, a major sticking point that remained was the concept of a 40 bed five star hotel at the Harbour.

Some members of the Community Reference Group that the Council has set up over the Harbour planning were concerned about the level of community consultation prior to, and during, the preparation of plans that would go to a planning scheme amendment.  In other words by the time the public saw the plans at the exhibition stage, the fear was that little change could be introduced.  

While the afternoon was intended to inform the public by way of displaying documents and plans that had come from various sources, the CEO and Councillors agreed to take questions from the floor.  It was evident that those in attendance did NOT want to see the hotel development at the harbour and that a collective negative view remained.  Primarily the site was seen as being too small for such a project with the retention of the golf course (which was also the popular view).  Rob Small was at pains to point out that the community would be consulted and that Council would only do the development that the community wanted.  This appeared to be at odds with the views of Jack Green who stressed that Council was acting on behalf of the State Government; it was State Government land.  The Mayor, Brian Crook, stated that Council had had discussions with Terry Mulder and others and that the supported view was that the golf course should remain with a renewal of lease that expires in 2016

At the close of the meeting, a recommendation was made that Council should increase public consultation and widely display the plans and some options before the exhibition stage of the planning scheme amendment process.

Some unanswered questions remain.  An important one that has come to light is what plans does Cr Frank Buchanan have for private development in the Rural Activity Zone of his property.  A visit to the following web site is recommended: www.domain.com.au/Property/For-Sale/Land/VIC/Apollo-Bay/?adid=2008151788