A MAJOR tourism development proposed for just outside the gates of Wilsons Promontory National Park is a step closer to becoming a reality following action by the Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy.
The minister last Friday formally approved the rezoning of the Yanakie land from Farming Zone to Special Use Zone (Schedule 4) to clear the way for the proposed international standard tourist accommodation development 400 metres from the park gates.
The announcement, which comes hot on the heels of the minister’s approval of the Rural Land Use Strategy, was greeted with delight by South Gippsland Shire Council’s Director Development Services, Phil Stone.
“The landowner, Mr Tom Tootell, has been promoting the Wilsons Prom Nature Retreat vision for several years and the new zone now gives prospective developers and investors certainty and an appropriate platform from which to consider the development stage,” said Mr Stone. “Our Strategic Planning team has done an excellent job to bring this stage to completion. As well, there has been significant support from the Tourism and Economic Development teams and the Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD).
“This project will also synergise brilliantly with the Corner Inlet Tourism Development Project which Council committed over $2 million to last October.”
Mr Stone said that when fully realised the proposed facility was expected to fill an identified gap in Victoria’s nature based tourism product, catering for both international and domestic visitors in an environmentally compatible accommodation and conference facility. It will also deliver a significant economic stimulus for South Gippsland and open up new tourism markets for the wider Gippsland area.
“Our thanks go to Mr Tootell for his tenacity in holding his vision, and to the minister for his support and understanding of the changing needs of our region,” said Mr Stone.
Mr Tootell said he had been waiting two and a quarter years, so he was delighted to finally gain approval for his dream project.
“The next step will be to find somebody who can develop the project,” he said.
“My intention has always been to protect the Prom from development within the Park. That’s been my vision. Here we have a beautiful park and we want to make sure that the people who visit it do not leave their footprints within it.”
Mr Tootel said the project had been maturing while he was waiting for a ruling on the zoning. The 256-acre site, a former dairy farm, now includes 40 acres of salt wetlands. This and 150,000 newly planted trees have attracted a wide variety of wildlife back, including kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, emus and many birds, such as wedge-tailed and sea eagles, and Cape Barren geese.
“In effect, it will be a mini-park outside the main national park,” said Mr Tootel, who is hoping to have 50 cabins and a bar/bistro on the site. He envisages locals being involved in the project, as employees and/or suppliers of produce.
Further details on the project can be viewed at www.wilsonspromretreat.com.au