MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors have voted to grant a retrospective planning permit for three, short stay units on green wedge land at Red Hill, rejecting a council officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.
Despite the “group accommodation” use being prohibited within green wedge zones the site had previously operated as a restaurant, which means a new prohibited use could be allowed if a permit was applied for within two years.
Council officers disputed that the restaurant was actually operating within the two year “existing rights” timeframe. They also had concerns about the on-site management of wastewater.
Applicant Simon McNamara, who owns the nearby Lindenderry winery, bought the former Artisan restaurant and residence at 164 Arthurs Seat Road in late 2020 to turn it into a European-inspired accommodation venue. The restaurant was later remodelled into three new villas, with much of the time since the purchase being affected by the pandemic.
McNamara told the council he and his wife Gina had spent 18 months trying to satisfy planning and health requirements and had provided receipts and other evidence of consistent use but had been met with resistance and frustration.
“Essentially this is a technical matter, where what constitutes evidence of trading is both ambiguous and subjective,” he said.
McNamara said he had also upgraded the septic system shortly after buying the property and had evidence from experts that the septic system was adequate and complied with Environment Protection Authority regulations.
He urged the council to support the application to avoid the issue going to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and “so we can keep supporting out local community”.
Cr David Gill, who said he would not normally advocate for development within a green wedge zone, said the new use of the site for accommodation for up to eight people would put much less pressure on the land than the restaurant had, which could seat up to 80.
Gill moved a new motion that the application be granted provided the business does not operate until a number of conditions are met, including car parking and proof the wastewater system is adequate.
The motion was adopted unanimously.