OBJECTIONS to the old Bendigo Gaol theatre project have been labelled bizarre conspiracy theories by Planning Minister Matthew Guy.
Speaking for the first time since stepping in to give the $25.8 million project the green light, Mr Guy told the Bendigo Advertiser the matter could have been handled better.
“This is a terrific community facility, and the conspiracy theories that have been thrown around by some people involved in this debate have been quite bizarre,” he said.
“And I think it hasn’t been to the benefit of Bendigo.”
Four people, headed by Daryl McClure, objected to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on the grounds the project breached the council’s planning laws and impinged on Rosalind Park.
Mr McClure was scathing of the process and said Mr Guy and the council had been secretive.
The VCAT process which started last Friday can continue, but won’t stop the project, according to Mr Guy. “The issue is settled ... the issue is over,” he said.
“The plans have been incorporated into the Bendigo planning scheme and this project will be able to proceed.”
VCAT had initially told the council there were no objections to the project, then said an appeal had been lodged.
Mr Guy had said he would step in to make sure the project would go ahead, but there had been confusion about the status of the plans following a VCAT hearing last Friday.
Mr McClure said he was “appalled” by the lack of communication from the parties involved in the process and said there hadn’t been any conspiracy theories.
“We’ve simply placed an application to VCAT, which was misplaced by VCAT,” he said.
Mr McClure said he would need further information before deciding whether to attend the next VCAT hearing in December. But Mr Guy said the proposal “can now go ahead very, very quickly”.