Queenscliff Councillors have voted to remove the delegation of the borough’s planning officers to make a ruling on the application for 81 Nelson Road, after receiving a “substantial” number of objecting submissions.
The application proposes to transform the 22-bed vacant building into the Bellarine Wellness Centre – a “short stay retreat and respite centre” offering off-site for individuals and couples such as yoga, snorkeling, swimming and day trips.”
“The proposal would make use of an under-utilised building on the site” and would be a “positive addition to the community, providing further health-related services,” according to the application.
“The facility would be staffed 24 hours and visitors would be encouraged not to bring their vehicles. “The facility will offer a shuttle bus to and from Geelong,” it says.
Guests would be offered stays of up to one month.
The application makes no specific mention of drug and alcohol treatment, however the individual whose name appears on it is understood to be a drug and alcohol counselor with links to another rehabilitation facility.
Queenscliffe CEO Lenny Jenner said the interest in the application warranted a separate planning meeting, giving those for and against it to have their say.
“There is a very high number of submissions Council has received. It would be clearly appropriate to provide the proponent with that significant number of submissions and to provide an adequate level of time for both submitters and the proponent to prepare, so that we get the best out of that meeting,” Mr Jenner said.
The building adjoins Council-owned land in Murray Road, earmarked for a residential development estimated to deliver as much as $4.7 million.
Mr Jenner said there was no risk of Council having a conflict of interest, because no voting Councillors stood to benefit personally.
Councillor Ross Ebbels, who lives nearby the centre, did not participate in last month’s vote.
“The Local Government Act outlines in a level of detail the question of when does a conflict of interest apply. If there is a direct, personal, individual gain then Councillors would need to consider and where appropriate declare a conflict of interest,” Mr Jenner said.
”That’s Council land and council is responsible for making a decision as and when is necessary in relation to that property. There is no private or personal gain to be achieved by any individual councilor, so there is no conflict of interest.”