Bungle delays hot springs decision

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DEVELOPERS and objectors to a multi-million dollar hot springs and restaurant complex near Rye have been put on hold because of an administrative bungle by Mornington Peninsula Shire.

A planning application for the complex on nearly 15 hectares in Browns Rd, Fingal, was withdrawn from last week’s planning services committee meeting because objectors were not given enough notice.

The delay will enable them to be present and ask questions when the issue next comes before the committee.

Planning services executive manager David Bergin said the report was pulled “due to an administrative error”. The item would be on the agenda for the committee’s 4 September meeting.

A report by senior planner Alia Slamet recommended a permit be granted to Hao Yang Australia for the Tea Tree Hot Springs Resort, which includes a restaurant and spa.

Ms Slamet said it had been decided not to hold a meeting between objectors and the developers because it would have been “unlikely to result in resolution between the two parties”.

The 18 objections received by the shire included the development being inconsistent with the objectives of the Green Wedge zone; a danger of contamination of ground water; increased traffic; loss of native vegetation and habitat; overdevelopment of the site; and the potential for accommodation to be added later.

The shire’s planner said the use was compatible with the site and “satisfactorily responds” to development regulations covering the Green Wedge zone.

Buildings on the land operate as the Hilltonia Homestead bed and breakfast.

A planning assessment report prepared by consultants GHD and included on last week’s committee meeting agenda shows ownership the land was transferred to Hao Yang Australia in March 2013 for $3.5 million.

A since-lapsed permit issued by the shire in October 2007 allowed a 52-room hotel, conference centre, spa and lap pool to be built on the site. Two extensions were subsequently allowed but a third application for more time in 2013 was refused.

The land lies between the northern part of the Moonah Links Resort and the shire’s Rye landfill. Peninsula Hot Springs is about one kilometre south.

Plans submitted by GHD show a five-winged building (maximum height 10 metres), car parking for 260 vehicles with a 150-car “overflow”, (400 patrons and 60 staff) and a “wellness centre” (spa and hot springs).

The existing Hilltonia buildings will remain and continue to be used.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 22 August 2017

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