The viability of an “ambitious” $20 million entertainment complex mooted for Traralgon has been questioned by the town’s community development association.
Minster Constructions’ planning permit application for the cinema compound at the old Manny’s Market site, on the corner of Franklin and Grey streets, is expected to be approved by Latrobe City Council at the end of the month.
Plans for the five-storey development include four movie theatres, including one gold class cinema, a restaurant, 21 residential apartments, six office spaces and motel rooms.
On Tuesday council confirmed it would approve the application in 21 days, pending no objections to the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal.
Traralgon Community Development Association president Axella Johannesson said a cinema had been at the top of residents’ wish lists for some time and praised the development for utilising the vacant eyesore.
However, she had concerns about the feasibility of the cinema in its proposed form.
“I’m happy that we will finally have a cinema here in Traralgon, but it has to be a viable cinema… I personally believe the cinema needs to be bigger,” she said.
Ms Johannesson said a combined seating capacity of 420 across the four cinemas may not be enough to cope with demand, and attendance may decline as a result.
Latrobe City general manager of city development Phil Stone said council received 12 submissions in support of the development.
Four objections were also submitted by residents, citing car parking, traffic congestion and noise disturbance as general concerns.
The proposal does not include any additional car parking, but Ms Johannesson said this was not of major concern.
She said any parking shortage could be minimalised through after-hours use of the cinema.
“My personal opinion is that the main people who would be using the cinema would be using it after-hours, so there would most likely be parking available in the central business district,” she said.
She acknowledged this would not include public holidays.
Morwell residents have previously taken to social media to express fears another cinema in the region would drive business away from Mid Valley’s Village 8.
However, Ms Johannesson said the cinema would attract a different crowd and alternative films, with talks alluding to an independent operator running the facility.
She said an alternative viewing program could also attract residents from neighbouring towns such as Rosedale to the cinema, she just hoped the service could meet demand.
“It has a lot of potential, I just want to see it done right,” Ms Johannesson said.
Minster Constructions refused to comment on its development.
Objectors to council’s decision have 21 days from 9 May to lodge an appeal with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
If no objections are made, council will issue the planning permit.