BENDIGO councillors could ask for temporary heritage protections to be slapped on land developers want to turn into a 202-room hotel complex.
It would be the best way to protect Williamson Street's 40 Winks building as the planning minister decides whether it is important enough for permanent heritage status.
City of Greater Bendigo officers made the recommendation as the council grapples with a slew of developers clamouring for hotel space in the city centre right when heritage advisors have recommended beefing up protections for 18 buildings.
They are broadly supportive of the push for a four-storey hotel complex that would stretch along Williamson Street from Mollison to McLaren Street.
Planning approval would coincide with a separate planning process on the future of the 18 buildings, they wrote in a report ahead of a council meeting scheduled for Monday.
Officers have recommended councillors vote to send an application to the state's planning minister for an interim heritage overlay for the site.
The officers would not need to send it right away.
They would only do that if developers applied to demolish the building before the minister had made a final decision on the 18 buildings.
The 40 Winks building has been swept to the centre of a wider debate about what should and should not be considered heritage in Bendigo.
Some have described it as one of the city centre's last intact modernist-style commercial buildings.
They celebrate its modernist features like tilted glazing, asymmetrical butterfly roofing and stonework walls in an insert corner porch.
Others think it is too new for heritage protection. It was built between 1959 and 1960.
If the minister approves a permanent heritage overlay a developer could still demolish the building. They would have to make a new application to do it, though.
"The merits of that application would need to be considered on their own terms at that time," council officers wrote to councillors.
The council could also choose to postpone any consideration of the hotel's planning proposal.
Officers said that could expose the council to a potential case at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
They said the council needed to consider all planning applications it receives in a timely manner and cannot not be sure when the planning minister would make a decisions on Bendigo heritage sites.
Three nearby residents have objected to the hotel. They have raised a number of concerns including heritage impacts, the building's height and car parking.
The developers want to build a multi-storey car park complete with space for 178 cars and 45 bicycles.
One objector raised concerns that there could be "overflow" cars into their own proposed business's spaces.
Council officers said each business would be responsible for managing parking on their land, and that they were satisfied the hotel would have enough parks.
The officers acknowledged that the building would exceed guidelines for the height of buildings in the area.
The highest part of the hotel complex would be 17.3 metres tall, or more than five metres higher than the guidelines state.
But council officers say those guidelines were always intended to be considered on a case by case basis and became more important when there was a risk a building would overshadow neighbours.
The hotel proposal is one of a slew of recent bids in the centre of Bendigo.
The council approved a planning application for a separate hotel across the other side of Mollison Street last month.
It approved plans for another in Hargreaves Mall last year.
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