Council tilt for Big Hill Vineyard owner.

Nick Cugura
Nick Cugura

GIVING the the city's planning department greater power to approve private developments is one of the key platforms of Bendigo businessman Nick Cugura's campaign for election to local council.

As owner of Big Hill Vineyard, Mr Cugura is no stranger to council's planning process. He said he spent $45,000 successfully appealing to VCAT the council's decision to deny him a permit to build accommodation facilities at his winery.

He said the council lacked common sense on planning issues, holding back development.

"As a councillor I would be pushing for the planning department to have more power to rubber stamp developments. Provided they comply with planning regulations, developments should just be approved," he said.

Mr Cugura said providing the planning department with more power would help the city's economic development.

"We've got huge unemployment issues in Bendigo. Councillors should be doing everything they can to create more jobs," he said.

He said he hoped the current crop of councillors would get the boot next year.

"The current councillors are too often fighting and arguing. Let's do what's in the best interests of Bendigo," he said.

 Mr Cugura said the debate over the proposed Kangaroo Flat pool was an example of council lacking common sense.

"We already have a pool on the outskirts of town that isn't being utilised enough," he said.

"If we have another pool it needs to be in the middle of Bendigo so no community is disadvantaged." 

A new pool would need to be 50 metres, not the 25m pool currently mooted, he said. 

He said his agenda for council was simple - create jobs, reduce rates and improve consistency of decisions.

Mr Cugura, who also co-owns wine management software company Ezy Systems, has lived in Bendigo 23 years.

"I came up here from Melbourne and fell in love with the country lifestyle," he said.

"I'm really happy with the opportunities Bendigo has provided me."