Reject resort plan: residents

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West Coast style: The RACV’s golfing resort at Torquay dominates the landscape.

West Coast style: The RACV’s golfing resort at Torquay dominates the landscape.

CAPE Schanck residents opposed to the proposed RACV resort expansion have called on shire councillors to reject the $135 million, five-storey, almost 30-metre high complex off Boneo Rd.

Opponents of the planned building have dubbed it “Ayers Rock” and “the mothership”. They have formed an alliance to lobby councillors as well as push the RACV to alter its plans for a building they say does not conform to the planning scheme for the precinct, which includes more than 200 homes and two golf courses.

They are concerned about increased traffic, noise from the resort and the bulk of the building. About 30-40 houses would overlook the resort. It would be visible from Boneo Rd, several holes on the National Golf Course, Gunnamatta Beach and Bass Strait.

The alliance includes resort neighbours, Friends of Cape Schanck, Moonah Estate Owners Corporation, and National Drive Residents Group.

RACV wants to demolish the existing clubhouse and construct a building to accommodate 650 conference delegates, up from the existing 250 limit. The auto club says it wants to build five storeys to reduce the footprint and environmental impact.

But opponents claim the plan to build 120 rooms to cater for 650 delegates, a restaurant for 140 people and a cafe for 44 people “clearly fails to meet the requirements of the Incorporated

Document and the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme”. (The Incorporated Document is the precinct’s own planning scheme, created 30 years ago when Cape Country Club was approved by the Shire of Flinders. RACV bought the resort in December 2005.)

The alliance says the shire’s planning scheme’s objectives include “encouraging tourism and recreation uses that minimise the adverse impacts on the amenity of local residents”.

“All buildings and works must be designed to contribute to the existing landscape character and should not seek to dominate, limit or reduce views available from public areas, including roadsides.

“The combination of the siting of the building, its scale and visual prominence does not ‘minimise adverse amenity impacts on existing dwellings’.

The development will be an incongruous element within its surrounds, entirely at odds with the design philosophies and principles that have informed 30 years of development within the resort precinct.”

Paul A’Bell, one of the 200 landholders in the precinct, said RACV had been asked to erect “height poles” to show the height of the proposed building “as were some residents when they applied to the shire to build homes”. RACV had rejected the request.

He said the building would be 10 metres above the ridgeline, which would be “an intrusive and dominating structure”.

Residents are also concerned about the new resort connecting to South East Water’s Boneo sewage treatment facility. The existing resort, the 200 plus homes and some areas of National Golf Club have used a private system for many years that costs homeowners about $1000 a year each. RACV withdrawing from the system will see costs almost double.

“We request that council not approve the proposed alternative sewerage proposal submitted by RACV until such time as a sustainable solution can be implemented that does not result in unreasonable additional costs to the precinct’s residents.”

Resort opponents claim there has been insufficient community consultation and that the RACV has actively discouraged residents’ input.

There was a “preliminary information session” initiated by RACV, its architects and consultants at the resort in May 2013. “A letter from the RACV to the shire’s planning department in September 2013 discouraged further consultation about the plans as ‘it would only seek to confuse and frustrate the process and the local community’,” the opponents stated in a letter to councillors.

Only two further meetings had been held, one in February organised by the shire and a meeting with shire CEO Carl Cowie on 12 March, initiated by opponents.

“We urge the council to ensure that the community is given fair and frequent opportunities to have its concerns addressed. We have formed a sub-committee to ensure this process is readily manageable.”

Opponents, the RACV and the shire will meet later this month.

Sue Blake, executive general manager of RACV Club and Resorts, told The News in a statement that plans for the resort redevelopment were lodged with the shire in November 2014 following “extensive consultation with the local community, relevant authorities, council and other interested parties including local Aboriginal groups”.

“RACV also submitted a community consultation plan to … the shire council outlining the process undertaken since 2012.

“More than 150 people attended the initial RACV information evening held in May 2013 at the Cape Schanck resort where RACV shared its vision for the site, conceptual development plans and predicted economic and social benefits for the region. The proposed development has strong support from Tourism Victoria.

“With projects of this nature there will always be important local considerations and RACV has been working with council for more than 30 months to keep it informed and address council’s planning requirements.

“Council is now running a process, which RACV fully supports, to consider the views of those who have made submissions and as part of this process RACV will do its best to address any individual resident’s concerns.”

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