COUNCILLORS have approved a new microbrewery and distillery on the Rhyll foreshore featuring a 90-seat bar and restaurant, a brewery theatre and waterfront views.
The unanimous approval at today’s council meeting followed negotiations around noise mitigation, tree protection, improvements to the energy performance of the buildings, as well as water efficiency and the use of rainwater, stormwater, and recycled water.
Operating hours will be limited to 11am to 11pm daily with the maximum number of patrons set at 90. Live music is not permitted and takeaway liquor sales will not be permitted after 10pm.
The project received $1.2 million in State Government funding last year via a Regional Tourism Investment Fund grant. It’s expected to create around 55 jobs during construction and up to 20 full time jobs after works are complete.
The new brewery will produce about 60,000 litres of beer a year and a variety of rums and gins will be produced in the distillery.
The application received 49 objections, including a petition containing 40 signatures. There were also five submissions in support.
A major concern of the objectors was the impact on the serenity of Rhyll. Other objections related to setback, over-development of the site, neighbourhood character, and the lack of on-site car parking.
Cr David Rooks said the applicants had gone to a lot of trouble to come up with a sustainable building and a simple design that was sensitive to the coastal setting. ““It has the look of two garages or boathouses that recognise the history of the area.”
“Rhyll is known as a quiet sleepy boating village and many in the community want to keep it that way. Will this application significantly change that? There is already a Rhyll bar and restaurant – similar business – that has operated for many years to the satisfaction of the community.”
Cr Ron Bauer welcomed the “entrepreneurial spirit” of the developer and the ambitious plan. “I did my own totally unscientific survey of the residents of Rhyll and found the majority are in favour. I was told the Rhyll Residents Association also did a survey of members with the majority in favour.
Objectors and councillors also expressed concerns about car parking with the applicant seeking a reduction of 31 car spaces citing the ready availability of on-street car parking spaces nearby, public transport, pedestrian and cyclist access.
Cr Ron Bauer said the waiver of car parking requirements was becoming a pattern with recent council approvals. “Now this is the grand-daddy of them all.” He welcomed a parking survey to determine requirements.
Cr Rochelle Halstead also expressed concern about the pattern pof car parking waivers and asked council planning staff to try to limit them.
And she tried to reassure residents who were concerned about the possible loss of serenity. “As a business owner myself, I can offer them the following. It is in the best interests of the owners to be mindful of their neighbours because they will rely on them in quiet times. I’m sure they’ll be doing everything they can to work with local community.”
Mayor Cr Michael Whelan welcomed the unanimous decision. “It’s great news for jobs, the local economy and the area’s growing reputation for food and drink. It is further evidence that Bass Coast is bouncing back strongly from COVID.’’
He said a focus of the Phillip Island and San Remo Visitor Economy Strategy 2035 was to attract projects to support off-peak and year-round visitation. “This development ticks all those boxes.’’