A widely-criticised resort project at Apollo Bay has been refused planning approval.

Planning minister Richard Wynne has refused to approve a planning permit for a $70 million five-star resort proposed for the small coastal town of Apollo Bay. Designed by Spowers Architects, the proposed development was to include 180 hotel rooms, 82 villas, two restaurants, a wellness centre and pool. It would have been a highly prominent development visible from The Great Ocean Road.

Apollo bay resort development architecture design planning
Image: planning.vic.gov.au

The project was widely opposed by local residents; 1,550 of 1,590 residents were members of a group opposing the development, and at a ten-day public hearing in 2018 the Colac Otway Shire Council received 294 objecting submissions and 16 supporting submissions related to the proposal.

The proposal was rejected following recommendations by an independent planning panel that condemned the project’s massive scale and environmental impact. Other grounds for refusal were the proposal’s inadequate responses to landslip risk, flooding risk, threat of bushfire, threat to biodiversity and vegetation, and the buffering of waterways.

“We want to see coastal towns like Apollo Bay grow sustainably so it’s crucial to protect them from inappropriate developments that threaten the iconic landscape of the Great Ocean Road region,” says acting minister for planning, Lily D’Ambrosio.

According to D’Ambrosio, the government is “protecting beloved coastal towns like Apollo Bay from losing their charm to development”, and the decision to halt the project “reflects the strongly expressed wishes of the community”.