CAPE Schanck residents are objecting to RACV plans to build a $135 million, five-storey, 26-metre high conference complex at its resort on Boneo Rd.
RACV Cape Schanck Resort of about 250 hectares currently has an 86-bedroom hotel as well as restaurant, cafe, rooms for meetings and weddings, outdoor heated pool, sauna, games room, gym and a four-kilometre walking/running track.
Centrepiece of the resort is its famous 18-hole, Robert Trent Jones Jr-designed championship golf course as well as practice facilities and driving range.
The resort started life as Cape Country Club, first approved in 1985 by the Shire of Flinders, and was bought by the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) in December 2005.
In mid-2013, the club asked Mornington Peninsula Shire and the state government to amendment the planning scheme – the “Incorporated Document Schedule 5 – The National Golf Course and Cape Schanck Resort Development, Boneo Road, Cape Schanck, October 2003” – to permit the redevelopment, which could include demolition of the existing clubhouse.
The amendment was approved by the Napthine Coalition government late last year just before it went into caretaker mode in the run-up to the November election.
The resort is the largest individual commercial development in the area.
In 2013, senior shire planner Allan Cowley in a report to councillors stated that “the original approval envisaged the development of an integrated resort, including both the National and Cape Schanck golf courses, clubrooms, hotel accommodation, function centre, etc as well as private dwellings, much as already exists at Cape Schanck”.
He said the overall development was “divided into separate ownerships during the 1990s, with the National Golf Course area separated from the Cape Schanck resort and the sewerage treatment plant that services the resort and the private lots being transferred to a separate company”.
He said there was some doubt about whether the Cape Schanck Incorporated Document was exempt from green wedge planning restrictions introduced in 2003.
Mr Cowley told the council the RACV wanted to expand the resort so it could accommodate 650 conference delegates, up from the existing 250 limit.
There would be 120 rooms and a 140-seat restaurant.
The club wanted to demolish the existing clubhouse and replace it with a much larger building of five storeys, Mr Cowley said.
He said the club’s plans had been supported by Tourism Victoria, and would provide “short- and long-term socio-economic benefits” in construction jobs, resort jobs and support for local tourism.
But objectors, including residents of the precinct, are concerned about the height of the complex, impact on the landscape, access to facilities, effect on sewerage treatment arrangements, impact of traffic including construction traffic on Boneo Rd and internal roads, effect on the long-range landscape, and impact on homes near the resort (one property will be overshadowed as early as 3pm).
When the National Golf Club (which has 2500 member/shareholders) built its clubhouse about 10 years ago, it was required to keep the roof line below the surrounding ridgeline and had to excavate two storeys below ground level at great cost, estimated to have added $10 million to the project.
Friends of Cape Schanck (formed to oppose Colonial Leisure Group’s nearby Barragunda Brewery proposal in 2011) does not have an in-principle objection to the development, but is worried about “increased traffic flow during demolition and construction (heavy vehicles) and then normal operations (heavy vehicles for waste removal and increased patronage from a 650-seat conference venue plus an additional 120 rooms), which will exacerbate this problem even further”. It has called for Boneo Rd to be upgraded before the project starts.
“We find it staggering that RACV has commissioned such a limited consultation on safety on Boneo Rd, given automobile safety is its core business.
“Given the scale of the redevelopment, FOCS believes this provides a significant opportunity to upgrade infrastructure – gas, sewage and national broadband accessibility – to the adjoining residential community.”
Other objectors are worried the expansion will set a precedent for more multi-storey development in the peninsula’s green wedge zone.
Paul A’Bell, who lives near the resort, told The News a larger conference centre would be a good thing for the peninsula but it appeared to contravene the shire’s strategic planning statement on the green wedge. “The building will be nearly 30 metres high, about 12 metres above the ridgeline,” he said. “The RACV has told us this is to keep the building footprint as small as possible but residents are not allowed to build houses more than eight metres high.”
Residents were concerned about the consultation process, he said.
Objectors are planning a strategy meeting in preparation for a shire-sponsored Planning Application Conference that will be attended by the resort architect. The meeting was due to be held this week but has been cancelled.