Green light for hotel

A PRIME parcel of Traralgon land which has laid dormant for seven years is set to finally be developed.

The corner of the Princes Highway and Post Office Place will become the site of a four-storey hotel, following approval from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last week.

Latrobe City Council voted the project down last year because it believed there was inadequate parking, but the developer successfully appealed the decision through VCAT.

“We’re delighted to be moving forward and persistence prevailed,” Ceej Developments director Michael Biviano said.

The hotel will include 45 two-bedroom apartments, some of which can be separated into single-bedroom apartments, along with a conference room, cafe and 55 car parking spaces.

Mr Biviano said the building would be to Traralgon, what the General Post Office building was to Melbourne.

“We think the site’s in the best position in town,” he said.

“It’s going to have a terrace overlooking Victory Park and will bring people into the central business district.”

Mr Biviano said Ceej would put the multi-million dollar project out to tender within the next three weeks and hoped to get “as many locals as possible” working on construction, which he anticipated could involve more than 100 people.

He criticised council’s handling of the planning permit application, saying while the planning department was helpful, councillors themselves were not cooperative.

“We offered on several occasions to meet with councillors and they wouldn’t fit it in,” Mr Biviano said.

“I didn’t take it they were being rude to us, I took it they were probably out of their depth.”

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

Since then, new planning guidelines have been introduced which allow the Latrobe City chief executive to approve a planning permit application if it receives five objections or less.

This eliminates the need for the application to be considered by councillors at a meeting.

The VCAT appeal was the latest in a string of hold-ups in the site’s development since Ceej purchased it seven years ago.

In 2008 an Azarole Hawthorn tree on the site was heritage listed part-way through plans to construct a five-storey office complex know as ‘Victory Tower’.

The company then paid to transplant the tree, believed to be the only one of its kind in Australia, across the road to Victory Park.

Plans for the site have since changed numerous times.

Latrobe City Council declined to comment.