Councillors unanimously approved a motion last week to investigate building the mostly two-storey dwellings at the southeast end of the reserve, currently housing seven single storey cabins.
The backflip follows an ultimatum from Bellarine MP Lisa Neville to either find a new home or miss out on $2.69 million in state government funding towards the borough’s $7 million Destination Queenscliff Project – of which the cabins are a key component.
It also follows a sustained community campaign opposing development on the Bluff.
“There’s been rightly some really strong views in the community about what should happen in that area and whether there should be any development like eco-cabins,” Ms Neville told residents gathered at a public meeting last week.
“I do remember saying to Council that as far as I can see, people aren’t happy about it but show me otherwise, and that’s hasn’t happened.
“Although there’s been a view that we need the cabins to support some kind of tourism… I think largely, overwhelmingly, people did not think that was the right place to put those eco-cabins,” Ms Neville said.
“This is a strong community that has strongly made its views known to everyone and you have been heard, you’ve been heard by me,” she said.
A report on the change of location will now be prepared for this month’s Council meeting and the search for a “world-leading” architect to design the cabins is continuing.
Council officers are also examining where the reserve’s manager’s lodge and existing cabins can be relocated.
“It will probably include the moving of the existing house to make more space and of course we’re also going to get a new kiosk,” said Cr Bob Merriman, who put forward the motion.
“The intention is not to in any way impose upon the existing recreation area for the sporting bodies.
“One of the options could be to relocate some of them to Golightly [Caravan Park] but we need to go through the department… there’s certainly space there to look at relocating the existing rec reserve cabins,” Cr Merriman said. “We know that we‘ve got to put them somewhere to earn money from them.”
The federal government has agreed to amend its existing Destination Queenscliff funding contract, worth almost $3.5 million, to enable the relocation away from the bluff.
The outcome as a “terrific victory for people power,” said Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson.