ASPIRATIONS of a barbecue restaurant at Red Hill to double its number of diners have been dampened by Mornington Peninsula Shire.
Red Gum BBQ, which bills itself as “the most authentic Southern American BBQ in Australia and the Mornington Peninsula’s best BBQ and Beer Hall, in the heart of Red Hill” wants to lift its allowable number of patrons from 85 to 170.
The shire says there is not enough available parking and there are issues with noise and dealing with wastewater from the restaurant.
The restaurant operates at the rear of the service station in a small shopping centre on Arthurs Seat Road.
The restaurant has lodged an appeal against the council’s decision with the Victorian Civil Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT), although no date has been set for the hearing.
As well as the service station and barbecue restaurant the shopping centre includes a general store, real estate agency, travel agency, garden supplies shop and yoga studio. Opposite the site is a disability support services centre.
The site has 34 car parking spaces, with spill over vehicles being parked on the bend in Arthurs Seat Road which has a 70kph speed limit.
The council has received 26 objections to increasing the maximum number of patrons at the restaurant.
Objections included concerns about excessive noise, safety for traffic and pedestrians and “the current wastewater system being insufficient to accommodate the existing patron numbers”.
The site is unsewered and all wastewater from the restaurant is treated and retained within the boundaries of the site through a wastewater treatment plant and disposal trenches.
The shire’s traffic and transport department also opposed increasing the number of patrons with the traffic engineer stating: ““There have been ongoing traffic and parking issues with this establishment since it started operating with the current patron numbers. Any increase will exacerbate these problems and decrease the safety for pedestrians attempting to access the premises and traffic using the road, especially with a parking waiver pushing more vehicles onto Arthurs Seat Road.”
In a report to the shire’s planning services committee on Monday 4 June, senior planner James Leonard stated that “such a heavy reliance upon parking on the opposite side of Arthurs Seat Road (a rural road with limited street lighting) is unacceptable from a traffic and pedestrian safety perspective”.
“This is compounded by the serving of alcohol on site, meaning the potential for intoxicated patrons (even with the benefit of a designated driver) to be crossing this rural road to reach their transport.”
Jackie Prossor, director of Foresite Planning and Bushfire Consultants, Rosebud, said on Friday she did not expect a compromise solution would be reached before the VCAT hearing.
She said Red Gum BBQ was an asset to the area and she was heartened by the shire’s decision to further investigate “the capacity to possibly increase patron numbers and to develop a parking transport plan that could accommodate for the increase in patrons, taking into consideration impacts on car parking amenity, pedestrian safety and improved lighting for the area”.
Red Gum owner Melissa Goffin said most of the objectors had submitted signed copies of the same letter which left her doubting “the extent to which they’ll follow it through” when the issue goes to VCAT.
Ms Goffin said she felt councillors now “have a desire to work collaboratively with us before the VCAT hearing for a resolution”, which was a change from the message previously given by shire officers.
“We never expected to get a [amended] permit without conditions, but we’re frustrated this did not happen before,” she said.
Ms Goffin said the Red Gum BBQ was “a really great business” that was entitled, in the wake of its success, to seek changes.
“We’re community minded and have an ethical accreditation.”
She said this accreditation recognised Red Gum’s use of meat from free range, grass fed animals; having local suppliers; paying over-award wages; use of recycled products; and energy saving processes.