Frequently Asked Questions

1. Rezoning for the Proposed Portarlington Resort

Question:

Does the rural zone in Tower Road need to be re-zoned to allow for the proposed Portarlington Resort?

Answer:

No

The Greater Geelong Planning Scheme under Clause 22.06 allows for tourism, accommodation and function centres, including “integrated resort accommodation”, in the rural zone to support tourism development.

The proposed Portarlington Resort is an ‘integrated resort accommodation’ under Clause 22.06. It is a tourist attraction in itself. Day and overnight visitors are expected to be drawn to the restaurant, function/event centre, and to the ‘wellness facilities’. The resort will offer several types and levels of accommodation including penthouse and individual villas.
Independent consultants for Contra Constructions assessed the proposed Portarlington Resort against the policy requirements of the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme. On balance, considering environmental, economic, social and cultural impact, the proposed resort meets all CoGG policy requirements.
Re-zoning is not required.

2. The Bellarine as a distinctive area and landscape

Question:

Does the process to develop the Policy Statement for the Declaration of The Bellarine as a distinctive area and landscape (Victorian Government Gazette, 29 October 2019) impact on the Portarlington Resort Project?

Answer:

The Declaration of Bellarine Peninsula as a Distinctive Area and Landscape does not impact on the proposed Portarlington Resort.

The application for a planning permit should not be delayed due to the development of the Policy Statement for the declaration of the Bellarine Peninsula as a distinctive area and landscape. Relevant current CoGG policies are already aligned with the gazetted framework for this particular site.

Contra Constructions supports the principles that initiated the declaration of the Bellarine Peninsula as a distinctive area and landscape, i.e. to protect the boundary of settlement areas, and the character of the towns and rural areas. The tourist attractions of this area require protection, i.e. the charm and character of the town centre, historic buildings, the foreshore area, the rural character, and the tourism attractions such as wineries and restaurants, especially those in the rural area because of their importance in the tourist industry and local economy.

The declaration of the Bellarine Peninsula as a distinctive area and landscape, gazetted on October 29th 2019 does not list the land on the south side of Tower Road as significant.
AND
The Bellarine Peninsula Localised Planning Statement, 2015, map on page 11, does not include the area round Tower Road as a significant landscape.

In Table 1 of the gazetted statement for the declaration of the Bellarine Peninsula as a distinctive area and landscape, labelled, Attributes qualifying declared area as a distinctive area and landscape, and under item 2 of the Table, labelled Significant Geographical Features including Natural Landforms, item (b) is a broad statement describing the distinctive features for protection: “The scenic views across the Bellarine Peninsula of rural landscapes and along the coast are highly valued for their natural beauty”.

The declaration of the Bellarine Peninsula as a distinctive area and landscape, is well aligned with the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme Clause 22.06, i.e. the policy regarding: threats to natural landscapes and landforms; visual impacts on view lines and topography of the rural landscape; intensity of land use; and urban development. In section 5 of the gazetted document for the declaration of the Bellarine Peninsula as a distinctive area and landscape labelled “threats of significant land use change of the declared area”, the relevant “identified threat” is (b): threats to natural landscapes and landforms, including visual impacts on view lines and topography of the rural landscapes through Bellarine Peninsula, from intensity of land use and urban development”.

The above statements demonstrate that the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme, and the gazetted declaration of the Bellarine Peninsula as a distinctive area and landscape, are aligned in regard to the threats to rural landscapes.
As per the requirements of the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme, and the declaration of the Bellarine Peninsula as a distinctive area and landscape, the proposed Portarlington Resort in Tower Road will:

•  not unreasonably visually compromise any natural or significant landscapes and landforms, impact visual impact on view line and topography, or the large acreage agricultural land that attracts tourists (due to impact mitigation location, design and siting)

•  not impede the scenic views across the Bellarine Peninsula of rural landscapes and along the coast, nor impede visual impacts on view lines and topography of the rural landscapes

•  not compromise existing agricultural activities on the site due to the small acreage, poor soil condition and lack of water, or compromise agricultural productivity on neighbouring properties

• not impact on non-urban breaks (The Bellarine Peninsula Localised Planning Statement, December, 2015, defines non-urban breaks as: “The non-urban breaks between settlements include areas of environmental significance, areas with significant landscape value, sites with significant vegetation and some of the most productive rural land within the City of Greater Geelong”.)

•  not impact on the character of the town (due to location in the rural zone), or lead to ‘urbanisation’ of the rural zone (requires re-zoning under CoGG authority to ‘urbanise’)

The Bellarine Peninsula Localised Planning Statement, 2015, identifies Portarlington’s role as residential and tourism. The Portarlington Resort project is well aligned to the strategies of the Greater Geelong and the Bellarine Tourism Plan 2019-22 to develop tourism in the North Bellarine.

There are many benefits for this resort being in Portarlington, the centre of the growing North Bellarine tourist boom, with the gateway now direct from Melbourne and Avalon Airport. The preferred location on the residential-rural fringe is ideal for minimal impact on both the character of the town, and the character of the rural area.

Independent consultants for Contra Constructions assessed the proposed Portarlington Resort against the policy requirements of the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme. On balance, considering environmental, economic, social and cultural impact, the proposed resort meets all CoGG policy requirements.

The economic, social and cultural benefits of the proposed Portarlington Resort are an essential part of the tourism strategy for a sustainable future in Portarlington and the North Bellarine. Environment impacts are minimal.

3. Visual Impact

Question:
Is the proposed Portarlington Resort visually dominant?

Answer:
The location, design and siting of the buildings mitigates the visual impact. The proposed resort will not be visually dominant to the township, coastal area, and the large acreage rural landscape (areas regarded as significant). The proposed resort will not be fully visible to neighbouring properties in Tower Road.

Visual impact is mitigated by:

•  siting and sizing the front part of the proposed resort building to be >50m from the nearest neighbouring residences and two storeys;

•  siting and the main part 4 storeys plus two storeys (offset) of the proposed resort building >80m from the nearest neighbouring residences, back towards Pigdon Street as far from Tower Road as possible;

•  moving the driveway on Tower Road to opposite Alison Street for safety;
using excavation and the topography to site the building so that it is not fully visible from Tower Road;

•  designing the entire proposed resort building and accompanying villas to blend into this local environment with minimal vista and obtrusive impact as possible; and
the landscape design.

Excerpt from the Visual Impact Analysis (full report available on this website)

•  From Portarlington-Geelong Road – only the top 2-3 storeys of the main building will be visible and drivers will not notice the building

•  From Queenscliff Road – the back of the main building will be visible, presently existing houses on Tower Road and Portarlington Rise are also visible, and the communication towers and water tank are also very visible. The resort will add to the sky line when travelling towards Portarlington from over 4 km.
From Tower Road travelling east (from Portarlington-Geelong Road) – The resort will not be prominent from the corner, and more visible as approached

•  From Tower Road travelling west (from Queenscliff Road) only the top 2-3 storeys of the main building will be visible as the crest of the hill is approached.

•  From residents opposite the property in Tower Road – most of these properties face the rise of the hill, and the resort will not be fully visible.

•  From Allens Road – The resort will be visible to the three houses in this minor rural street at the bottom of the hill to the resort.

•  From Pigdon Street and Batman Road – the southern end of the resort will be visible to a small number of rural properties from these roads

•  From the town centre – the resort will not be visible

•  From residential areas (except any in Tower Road mentioned above) – the resort will not be visible
•  From the foreshore – the resort will only be visible, in the distance, from around Point Richard area (west facing beaches), but not from the main beach, or from the northern beaches

• From around the bay offshore – part of the resort will be visible in the distance, as part of the hillside skyline, the degree dependent where you are and the distance offshore

Please go to the 3D video on the Website for a conceptual view of the visual impact from Tower Road.

4. Cost to use Pools and Wellness Centre facilities

Question:
How much will it cost to use the pools and wellness centre?

Answer:
Many local people have asked this question, and there is a rumoured assumption that the facilities will only be available through a costly membership (another example of ‘fake news’).

It is too early to determine the cost of services attached to the wellness centre facilities.

The wellness facilities will include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, hydrotherapy pools, salt baths, spas, saunas, gymnasium, treatment rooms, and more. The cost of using the wellness facilities, and the services, mechanisms and policy surrounding use of the facilities, are not yet determined. It’s not even built yet!

The development owner has stated that the wellness centre will be available to the local community. It will also be available to casual day visitors, and of course, to patrons of the resort using the accommodation facilities. Memberships may be or may not be available. The correct information will be available at the right time. The rules and costs governing use of facilities are not yet determined, e.g. bookings may be required to control access, especially for day visitors.

However, the resort pool facilities are not intended to replace the lack of a public pool in the area. Nor is it intended that these facilities will detract from the aspirations of Portarlington one day having its own public pool facilities. This is a proposed resort.

5. The resort as a tourist attraction

Question:
Is the proposed resort a tourist attraction?

Answer:
Of course, the resort is a tourist attraction in its own right due to: features such as its rural setting and the rural and coastal views; and the facilities and services, such as the wellness centre, function centre, restaurant, and bars. The facilities, and the services attached to these facilities, will attract patrons, both overnight and day patrons.

The difference between what a hotel and a resort offers, has to do with their location, the services and activities they provide, and the facilities or amenities available on-site. A resort is usually spread out over more land compared to a hotel, to cater for the extra activities. In addition, urban hotels are usually just a place for lodging and meals, while a resort allows for more privacy, entertainment, and luxury experiences.

The proposed Portarlington Resort offers choice in standard of accommodation, which is central to many local tourist attractions, such as the wineries and their restaurants, the foreshore, golf courses, ferries, and the town centre. However, it is expected that visitors to the area will also be attracted to the resort itself. The resort, through the location and design, aims to showcase the area, and offer luxury experiences, especially in respect to relaxation, food, service and accommodation.

An “integrated resort accommodation” is allowed under Clause 22.06, of the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme, Tourism, Accommodation, and Function Centre Development in Rural Areas. The scale and breadth of service offerings are unique, support a rural location, and ensure the resort is a tourist attraction in its own right.

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