*Published: Midland Express, October 10, 2017
Brakes have been put on divisive plans for a petrol station and 23-seat convenience restaurant at the southern gateway to Woodend.
Council planners have now red flagged the proposal, taking heed from a similar plan for the High Street site that lost at VCAT in 2015 with strong community opposition.
At the time councillors unanimously rejected the Coles petrol station/convenience store plan against officer recommendation.
Submissions for the latest proposal closed at the end of last month and council was bombarded with objections to the plans that many believe pose even greater safety and amenity risk than before.
The new design incorporates familiar illuminated signage and four double-sided petrol bowsers with canopy, but adds a double-storey fast food restaurant.
Site location concerns underpinned most objections which also highlight a multitude of traffic and pedestrian risks, especially for those accessing the neighbouring Woodend train station. Visual amenity for the country town was another key factor.
A council spokesperson said the applicant was advised that the proposal in its current form was unlikely to receive officers’ support but the applicant had not sought to amend the proposal in light of concerns raised.
“Accordingly a recommendation for refusal has been signed off and the notice of refusal paperwork is being finalised,” the spokesperson said.
Council planners said the building’s “overly bulky” appearance would be a dominating visual element in the township entrance and its “mock heritage design not respectful to the surroundings”.
The visual appearance at the town’s gateway was a major concern raised at the VCAT hearing.
Planners said the applicant had also failed to resolve adequate car parking for the convenience restaurant.
Other matters included vegetation concerns, and a larger canopy and far greater signage than proposed with the previous application.
While the community and council has made its position clear, the battle could just be beginning if the applicant decides to lodge an appeal to VCAT. The applicant also has the option to submit a new application with amendments to address the concerns raised.