A 202 room hotel development has been approved for Bendigo's centre, despite concerns it would lead to demolition of a building with potential heritage significance.
Councillors voted to approve the complex, proposed for part of the block between Williamson, Mollison and McLaren streets.
To build the hotel as proposed requires developers to demolish the existing buildings on part of the site.
But council's heritage advisor raised concerns about the proposed demolition of the Forty Winks building, formerly the Bendigo Timber Company showroom.
The agenda report described the building as one of the last, intact, modernist commercial buildings in the Bendigo city centre.
Councillors voted near-unanimously to support the proposal, with the exception of Councillor David Fagg.
Speaking in support of the motion, Councillor Margaret O'Rourke said the decision before council was the development application, not a heritage amendment.
Cr O'Rourke said the pending heritage overlay was "the elephant in the room", but she was satisfied that demolition would be managed to ensure checks and balances were met. She said the applicant had satisfactorily addressed objections raised.
Cr O'Rourke said accommodation at all levels of quality was vital for Bendigo into the future. She put the value of the development at close to $50 million dollars.
"We are a growing provincial city, and will continue to grow and see more activity in our city centre," Cr O'Rourke said.
"The applicant has given a great deal of thought to the design, the feel, the look and the amenities."
Cr Fagg said he was generally in favour of the hotel application, but objected to the planning process.
He said council approving the application made a de facto decision on the demolition of the Forty Winks building.
Cr Fagg suggested instead council defer the decision until after a planning report supporting a heritage overlay of the Forty Winks building had been considered by council.
Staff recommended councillors vote both to approve the hotel development, but also to apply to the Planning Minister for an interim heritage overlay on the site of the Forty Winks building.
A council heritage advisor described the site as "significant" in the agenda report.
The advisor said they did not support demolition unless the statutory planning panel did not find sufficient significance to meet heritage criteria.
The Bendigo City Centre Heritage Study identified the Forty Winks site as significant based on its modern style, and architectural features such as expressed steel columns, asymmetrical low-slung butterfly roof, cantilevered verandas, and clerestory windows.
The planning scheme amendment to formalise the heritage study is due to be considered by council in mid-2021, meaning it does not yet have statutory weight.
Currently there is no heritage overlay on the land.
The multi-building hotel is proposed for a site covering the addresses 113-133 Mollison Street and 106 - 114 Williamson Street, with an area of about 10,000 square metres.
As well as guest rooms, the proposal includes a conference function centre, restaurant, as well as retail and food and drink premises.
Several existing buildings other than Forty Winks occupy the site, including Drummond Golf and a specialist medical centre.
Other commercial buildings occupy parts of the block not subject to the proposal.
The site sits opposite that of another proposed hotel, the application for which council approved in April.
The key considerations named for the proposal in question's approval included implications for structures with potential heritage status, and the appropriateness of building form, design and height.
The adequacy of car parking and the effect on the amenity of the location were also named as significant.
Council received three objections to the proposed hotel, which raised concerns about the adequacy of car parking provisions, the proposed building and its relationship to context, potential overshadowing, and its effect on heritage surrounds.
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