Hotel gets knocked back by council

An artist impression of the proposed hotel in Lynbrook. Picture: BARNES CAPITAL

By Brendan Rees

A proposal for a three-storey hotel near the Hampton Park tip has been knocked back but the developer says he’s determined to take his fight to VCAT.

Casey Council refused to grant a permit for the planning application for 760 South Gippsland Highway in Lynbrook at council’s public meeting on Tuesday 17 March.

Barnes Capital have proposed to build a 100-room hotel, comprising of a function area, fitness centre, a terrace, and 74 car parking spaces at the site where a 7-Eleven service station currently stands.

Casey council rejected the plan – which was lodged in April 2019 – on the grounds that the Hallam Road landfill posed a “potential risk” to the public as well as their health and well-being.

Casey Council administrator Noelene Duff said she accepted the recommendations raised by council officers and therefore refused to grant a permit.

“There’s non-compliance with the general residential zone, non-compliance with the council’s development plan for Lynbrook and Lyndhurst, and a number of the other items you have raised,” Ms Duff said at the meeting.

“I do agree with your recommendation to issue a notice of decision to refuse to grant a permit,” she told council’s statutory planning and compliance officer Nick Moore.

Ms Duff added: “I also note in the report the many applications for this site – some of which have been accepted by past councils and other refused or withdrawn so this is a very complicated site.”

Mr Moore said the “principal issue” with the proposal was the site’s proximity to the existing landfill, with odour, dust and the risk of an “explosion or asphyxiation due to landfill gas migration” flagged as other concerns.

He said while the hotel may provide “needed short term accommodation” for the region but the risks “greatly outweigh any positive outcomes”.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) had also objected to the plan, advising council: “The proposal includes sensitive land uses encroaching into the separation buffer of an operating landfill.”

“The proposal includes below ground structures that may be a pathway for landfill gas migration,” EPA added.

Sustainability Victoria and the Metropolitan Waste Resource and Recovery Group have also backed the EPA in recommending against the plan with council saying activity at the site would also increase over the next five years due to the close of existing landfill sites in Clayton and the Mornington Peninsula.

Barnes Capital managing director Martyn Barnes said he was “surprised” at council’s recommendation to refuse a permit but understood council would not “go against EPA advice”.

He said in his opinion the health risks would be “minimal” and would prepare a case for VCAT.

“There’s a childcare centre that’s three doors away that’s been approved,” he said.

“Unfortunately everybody’s had to waste community and state resources and continue to clog up the VCAT process because of this issue and they keep getting approved.”

Ratepayers Victoria president Frank Sullivan said council had made the right decision which he explained was in the “best interest” of ratepayers’ health – “not the greed of the dollar”.