Hotel proposal stymied

A DEVELOPER has labelled a planning decision by Latrobe City Council to refuse a three-storey hotel for Traralgon’s central business district as “inept”.

Melbourne-based construction company Ceej Developments has lodged an appeal with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal after the proposal was voted down on Wednesday night because council believed there was inadequate parking.

“The councillors are inept and we believe they don’t understand the planning process,” Ceej director Michael Biviano said.

“Everybody in town has been extremely supportive and we had phone calls after the council meeting from Traralgon business-owners who are flabbergasted.”

The site of the proposed hotel sits on the corner of the Princes Highway and Post Office Place and has been earmarked for a large development since 2006.

Plans for the site have changed numerous times since then, but the current proposal includes 78 individual serviced apartments, a conference room, cafe and 55 car parking spaces.

Mr Biviano said the parking was “more than ample”, as most of the rooms were “twin key”, meaning adjoining rooms could be booked as one.

Council officers had recommended the development be approved.

“I do understand the town can be annoying for car parking. But I think our development would only be using parking within our land,” Mr Biviano said.

“This type of tenancy in Traralgon would be great for business and it’ll bring more people in the CBD of a night, which means the cafes and shopping centre will be utilised. It’s a no-brainer.

“Getting knocked back is part of the business, but the councillors don’t take any advice from their own planning officers.”

The development received one objection from a community member, the managing director of a motel and serviced apartments on Argyle Street.

Latrobe City mayor Sandy Kam said she encouraged the developer to address changes that needed to be made to the plan and apply again, because council believed in development on the site.

Traralgon-based councillor Dale Harriman said he was concerned about the use of the function room, as council officers were under the impression it would only be used by hotel guests, but a speaker for the development on Wednesday night said it could be used by others.

“When parking’s already an issue in Traralgon and you’re asking for a parking waiver, it doesn’t leave council confident,” Cr Harriman said.

“We’d love to have that site developed, but it just needs to be done properly.”