TWO City of Greater Bendigo councillors have met with Masons of Bendigo regarding a planning dispute over a picket fence.
The award-winning Queen Street restaurant is currently in discussion with CoGB about renovations to its outdoor dining area not meeting planning conditions.
Masons posted a picture of its new black picket fence to its Facebook page at the weekend, inviting users to like the photo if they thought the renovations should stay.
The post received almost 1800 likes and 250 comments, 99 per cent of which were positive.
But CoGB director of planning and development Prue Mansfield said the fence did not comply with the Outdoor Dining and Street Trading Code of Practice because it was too high and “closed in”.
Councillor James Williams confirmed he and CoGB mayor Lisa Ruffell had met with Masons owner Nick Anthony yesterday.
“We just thought because it had been raised in the public domain, we wanted to have a look and inform ourselves of the situation,” he said.
Cr Williams said he hoped CoGB would find there was “room to move in the situation”.
“We need to have flexibility in our planning scheme and have it change as time changes and culture changes,” he said.
“I would like to see council assisting people in building their businesses.”
But Cr Williams said he was happy to leave the official discussions to Ms Mansfield.
“We are happy with Prue to talk to them and we’re sure she will find a reasonable resolution,” he said.
In an emailed statement, Cr Ruffell indicated she believed the CoGB code would be upheld.
“The City of Greater Bendigo’s Planning and Development Unit will now work with the restaurant to resolve the issue in accordance with the standards that apply to other CBD traders,” she said.
Ms Mansfield said she CoGB staff had also met with Masons today to talk about the code and its “objectives”, but could not be drawn on whether the pickets would stay.
“I think it was a good, positive, productive meeting,” she said when asked if a decision was reached on the fence,” she said.
“The fence doesn’t comply with the code and Masons are well aware of that.
“They are thinking about what they will do next.”
Masons declined to make any comment to the media until they believed the situation had been resolved with council.
Posts referring to the picket fence dispute on the Masons Facebook page were removed yesterday.