A planning application for the development of a $50 million resort along the Daylesford-Trentham Road has been approved by Hepburn Shire Council.
The Lake Bellagio Resort and Spa includes the construction of 100 self-contained units around a lake, a function centre, health retreat and spa with liquor license and 300 car parks.
Its construction will mean the removal of six hectares of vegetation due to bushfire risk.
The requirement to offsetting this loss is a condition of the planning application, though it does not have to be offset within the shire.
The site is a parcel of land that is not identified as having high quality agricultural soil and is not surrounded by other farms.
The resort is estimated to generate a significant amount of jobs, with 60 to be created during construction.
Once the resort is up and running, 24 people will be employed full time and another 32 employed part time, while another 132 jobs will be generated in the municipality.
It is estimated to generate $34 million for the local economy each year.
Two previous planning permits were handed to the applicant in 2005 and then again in 2009.
The current planning application, lodged on April 4 this year, was given conditional approval from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the Country Fire Authority, Goulburn Murray Water and Vic Roads.
The approved application is markedly smaller than the previous proposals with council only receiving one objection to its advertising.
Caulfield Krivanek Architecture director Robert Caulfield said the largest point of difference between Bellagio and other spa resorts was its lake.
“There is nothing like this in Victoria to this scale. We’ve developed a complete wellness program so it’s more than a spa centre. There is a track around the lake which can be used for walking and other health and wellness activities, while there is also an idea to use the lake for kayaking.”
Belgravia– who run more than 100 spa resorts across the state including Hepburn Bath House –are in talks with the applicant about managing Bellagio.
Despite initial reservations about the scale and implications of the project, council granted the planning permit with support from all councillors, except Birch Ward councillor Kate Redwood.
Holcome Ward’s Cr John Cottrell said it was time for change.
“It has been scaled down to be suitable with mature vegetation on the site retained,” he said.
“It is important for this shire that we have a diversity of development.”
Coliban Ward’s Cr Sebastian Klein said he hoped the applicants would work with the wider community.
“There is no doubt a project of this size has a significant impact on the areas around them. I encourage the developer to work with the community for the better rather than operating in a small enclave within the shire,” he said.
“I encourage them to work with farmers, producers, council and tourism groups so they all benefit from their presence in the area.”