Expressions of interest for Apollo Bay Harbour

Planning and Services Pillar

Colac Otway Shire will seek expressions of interest in Apollo Bay harbour development, after market testing revealed private sector interest in commercial development.

Developers and investors will now be able to submit proposals with more detail about projects possible within the precinct’s existing planning controls.

The market testing process, launched late in February, revealed moderate private sector interest.

Mayor Chris Potter said it had shown that the precinct was attractive for commercial investment, in the right conditions.

“The scale of commercial development interest in the harbour precinct is in the vicinity of $2 million to $10 million,” Cr Potter said.

“What’s clear is that in order for developers to invest in the harbour precinct, improvements to public infrastructure are required including upgrades to car parking, pathways and toilets.

“Council also resolved to design an advocacy strategy to secure funding from state and federal governments for the development of public infrastructure.

“Proceeding to an EOI process will allow us to receive more detailed proposals about potential business ventures.

“This will help council to present a more compelling argument to the State Government about the need for public infrastructure funding, because we’ll be able to demonstrate the potential return on investments.”

Apollo Bay harbour development is a G21 Planning and Services Pillar project.

Colac Otway Shire zoned the harbour area special use via a planning scheme amendment in March 2015, and a project control group including community representatives is overseeing the market testing and expressions of interest processes.

Community members have indicated they would like the zone to include a publicly accessible aquatic and wellbeing centre and public infrastructure work including installation of boardwalks, improvements to car parks, public toilets and interpretive signs, but no accommodation or hotels.

Key findings from the market testing process included:

• The current planning controls support moderate-scaled development in the harbour precinct, in the vicinity of $2 million to $10 million.
• It is unlikely that a developer would be willing to commit to a larger scale development within the existing planning controls.
• It is unlikely that the private sector would be willing to contribute to a public swimming pool or public infrastructure improvements beyond pathways/boardwalks.
• Long-term leases of at least 50 years could be required in order to undertake a commercially viable development.
• A lack of quality rest rooms and public facilities along the Great Ocean Road presents an opportunity for the harbour. Providing this infrastructure could make the precinct a key stopping point for visitors and provide a captive market for retail ventures.
• There is a need to identify a theme for the precinct, such as fishing and coastal education, wellness and leisure, or retail. Food and beverage opportunities are allied to all themes.
• The prohibition of accommodation within the current planning controls is a limiting factor in generating private sector interest.

Sources: Colac Otway Shire media releases.