THE future of a $10 million plan to ease the southern Mornington Peninsula’s crippling staffing shortages by building worker accommodation in Sorrento will not be decided until the new year.
A permit for the 34-bedroom former aged care home Sorrento Lodge in Beach Road to be turned into worker accommodation was approved by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council in February, but progress halted when objectors concerned about traffic, noise and neighbourhood character took the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
The state government has now called in the matter because of issues raised during the VCAT hearings over policy and planning objectives, with Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny referring the matter to a priority standards advisory committee.
Suze Jones from Sorrento Lodge said it was disappointing that the accommodation would not be ready in time for summer.
“We just want it up and running, there is a such a need for employees to be able to stay down here to work,” she said.
Jones said the lodge would benefit so many, and the staff accommodation model could set a precedent to resolve widespread staffing shortages.
About half of the 77 beds in the proposed worker accommodation development are expected be taken up by staff working at the redeveloped InterContinental Hotel, with the rest available to other employers.
Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Steve Holland said the council was “acutely aware” of how difficult it was for some businesses to attract staff because of the shortage of affordable housing.
“We have been advocating to the state government for policy changes that would encourage the provision of key worker accommodation to safeguard local jobs and businesses,” he said.
“The Sorrento Lodge proposal would go some way towards easing the situation, which is a significant problem on the southern peninsula. We await the planning minister’s decision.”
Developers Trenerry Property hope to develop the former Sorrento Lodge into affordable accommodation for workers because of difficulty attracting staff for the busy summer periods.
The company, which has joined Victor Smorgon Group and the Kanat Group on the Sorrento project, also recently bought the mid-century Burnham Beeches in the Dandenongs, and owns the InterContinental Hotel, Sorrento.
Sorrento Lodge, in Ocean Beach Road, has been closed for three years, but once redeveloped will provide basic accommodation for workers for around $35-40 a night – or about $280 a week.