Old Miners’ Rest Hotel to be demolished, making way for service station

WONTHAGGI will get another service station, increasing the number of service stations within Wonthaggi to five, and an additional three fast food restaurants.
And with it, the bulldozing of the old Miners’ Rest Hotel – now Capital Entertainment Centre – which will be brought back to life as a hotel with a drive-through bottle shop.
But in debating the planning application at council’s ordinary meeting on Wednesday, Cr Les Larke raised concerns about having booze and fuel in close proximity.
He said the development made a mockery of anti-drink driving campaigns.
Cr Larke filed an alternative motion to reject the plans, but without a seconder, it didn’t get up.
Labelling the dog leg corner a “hazard”, Cr Larke said there might be issues around public transport and safety.
“We need a better town entry, something that is inviting to visitors,” he said.
He called the development another “one-stop shop” of fast food, petrol and liquor, and questioned if it was the message council wanted to send the community.
“Our shire is currently struggling with social challenges; youth affairs, alcohol, drugs, family violence and obesity.
“In my view, perhaps this becomes another hub for our disengaged youth and will contribute further to these social challenges.
“The site deserves a more dignified, sophisticated development for Wonthaggi north-east in line with a sense of place and cultural identity.”
He said people should stop to get ice cream while getting fuel, not alcohol.
He acknowledged the application wasn’t for a liquor licence, but questioned the impact on local businesses, caravan park residents and the proximity to the local kindergarten.
“There is enough written evidence that in instances of less than 200 metres between service stations and residents – it heightens risk, it’s a health risk.”
Cr Geoff Ellis stood with Cr Les Larke in voting against the application, citing traffic concerns and whether there was a need to have five service stations within about one kilometre of each other.
But the $3.5 million development will improve the town’s entrance, some councillors claimed in Cowes on Wednesday.
Cr Clare Le Serve, while acknowledging there had been nine objections, said the entrance of Wonthaggi needs beautification and the permit includes a condition to include public art.
“Whether I agree with a service station or not is probably not the point,” she said, adding that the derelict site needs to be upgraded.
Cr Bruce Kent called it a “great” development, but spoke about the importance of finding accommodation for special needs people in the community.
“I believe that we are stepping up to the mark to look at new accommodation for these people, so it will become an issue in the future.”
Cr Michael Whelan said there were concerns amongst councillors about the people living in the motel and he asked CEO Paul Buckley what action had been taken.
Mr Buckley said council had been in contact with the Department of Health and Human Services who agreed to have a meeting with the “stakeholders” – the people living at the site – to make sure that “when and if people are displaced” there would be a transition and relocation process.
The Wonthaggi Boxing Club rents a room at the site, but the club did not come up in discussions.
While their future remains unclear, coach Scott Williamson said the development will be good for the town.
“I think it’ll be great, we’re just waiting to see what happens,” he said.
The club campaigned for the old CFA building in Watt Street, Wonthaggi as a new home if they were kicked out.
Nine people objected to the application to bulldoze the existing buildings, but council officers have given it their tick of approval.
The caravan park next to the site has been marked for ‘future development’ on the application, but the permit will only allow the owners to redevelop the motel area.
The application was passed without the support of Cr Les Larke and Cr Geoff Ellis.