COUNCILLORS’ concerns over changes to Sorrento’s skyline means a $50 million plan to redevelop the Continental Hotel will be considered at a three-day VCAT hearing in January.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal will deliberate on an application by new hotel owners to refurbish the four-storey hotel, which is heritage listed, and build a residential apartment complex including a wellness centre to the south of the main hotel building.
The proposed height of the apartment building, to include a rooftop garden and terrace, was deemed to be too high by councillors at a public council meeting last Monday (12 December), since it could threaten to overshadow the hotel’s iconic clock tower.
The apartment building’s height would align with the guttering on the adjacent clock tower.
Council in July approved a planning permit to build a 37.05-metre apartment complex but the consortium which bought the Continental Hotel, for a figure believed to be about $15 million, now wants to add about two metres in height to the proposed building.
Lloyd Elliott, of town planners Urbis, speaking on behalf of developer Julian Gerner, told the council meeting that Heritage Victoria had approved the original plan to revamp the hotel.
Mr Elliott argued a mediated outcome had been agreed with objectors to the apartment building to be constructed on carpark land being sold by the shire to the consortium, and the project would be commercially unviable if the height of the apartment building is lowered.
“We shrunk the roof terrace by approximately two-thirds – over 50 per cent – it’s quite a significant reduction, it’s now 241 square metres,” he said.
“The only structure that you’ll see above there will be the glazed balustrade and a glazed box for the staircase to come out. We say they’re quite simple and appropriate developments on top of the site.”
Mr Elliott said the developer had “engaged” with the community over its redevelopment plans.
“[This] puts forward a better design outcome than when council first considered and supported this application.”
Mr Gerner was also at the meeting to answer questions from councillors.
Cr Hugh Fraser said apartments would be visible from Ocean Beach Rd.
“Council has a policy in relation to views from Ocean Beach Rd. Any development occurring should not be visible from Ocean Beach Rd, above the roofline of these buildings.”
Council officers said there was “adequate setback” so the apartment building would seem to be lower than the peak of the Continental Hotel.
Mr Gerner said the residential development “is financing the restoration and retention of the Continental Hotel”.
The proposed four-storey apartment building will contain 16 homes with a communal rooftop area, a gym, cafe, change rooms, offices and a terrace with a swimming pool.
A two-level basement car park will include 58 spaces and a public carpark will offer 25 spaces.
Councillors voted against the apartment building plan so a full VCAT appeal by the applicants will be held on 20 January next year.
The Nepean Historical Society and Nepean Conservation Group may lodge objections to VCAT.