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Controversial developer seeks new eco-resort in Cape Bridgewater

Save Cape Bridgewater Association president Patrick O’Brien said the project was inappropriate for the hamlet, which has a permanent population of about 80 people.

He said the sprawling development, which will spread across 10 hectares, included buildings far bigger than any other structure in Cape Bridgewater. One of the proposed buildings will have five levels.

The bay at Cape Bridgewater

The bay at Cape BridgewaterCredit:Jason South

The plans for the tourism development comes after the state government rejected a hotel proposal by the same applicant, Graham Duff, for Apollo Bay in 2019.

Mr Duff had wanted to build a 180-room hotel complex with 82 detached villa units and two restaurants at an estimated cost of $70 million.

Mr Duff declined to respond when contacted by The Age, saying it would be inappropriate to comment on any planning application awaiting a decision.

Architectural plans show several buildings sitting against a hillside overlooking the water.

The developer insists the project will deliver a financial boon for the region and nearby Portland by injecting $60 million into the economy and creating 245 ongoing full-time jobs.

Mr O’Brien said residents accepted tourism was part of the local economy and there would be developments in future.

But he said Mr Duff’s proposal would spoil the charm and natural appeal of Cape Bridgewater, undermining the development’s claimed benefits.

“This is not low-scale. We don’t believe it’s sensitive,” he said. “We think it’s completely out of character with the local environment and beauty of Cape Bridgewater.”

The proposed development has yet to receive approval from the Glenelg Shire Council, which will formally consider the plan in coming weeks.

A planning report submitted on behalf of Australian Tourism Trust argues there is a need to prepare for tourism growth and “protect scenic values” of coastal areas.

“ATT intends to deliver an eco-tourism destination that celebrates the culture and heritage of the Gunditjmara people and the rugged natural beauty of Victoria’s south-west coast,” it says.

The project would be “delivered in an environmentally sensitive manner” and will promote Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria’s south-west, the report says.

A Glenelg Shire Council spokeswoman said the application was still under consideration and the council was still waiting for an approved cultural heritage management plan to be submitted.

“We are not really in a position to advise on the type of things being considered,” she said. “These will be detailed and publicly available once council is ready to determine the matter.”

The plans also say the project would protect “employment options” in the area if there was a change in Alcoa’s Portland plant.

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