A PETROL station has been given the go ahead for Huntly’s town centre, but the application has questioned the weight of township plans in City of Greater Bendigo planning decisions.

The service station proposal attracted 34 objections with an overarching theme that its location, on the corner of Midland Highway and Burgoyne Street zoned for commercial use, was not what residents wanted in the middle of Huntly.

The objections also covered the impacts of traffic, access to local roads and pedestrian safety, issues which the developer worked to address in community consultation meetings by adjusting the layout and moving a bus stop further up the Midland Highway.

But councillors Andrea Metcalf and Jen Alden also questioned the look of a petrol station in the town centre and referred to reference documents including the Huntly Township Plan completed in 2009 and the bigger picture draft Public Space Plan that earmarks vacant land next to the proposed service stations as a potential town square.

Cr Metcalf said the township plan emphasised Huntly should retain its village feel.

An earlier Northern Corridor and Huntly Local Structure Plan developed in 2005 specifically acknowledged the need for services in Huntly but that a service station should be located outside the centre of town.

Cr Metcalf said council spent considerable time and money developing plans and reference documents that actually carried no weight and could be ignored in future planning decisions.

“It is now increasingly evident to me that council either needs to stop investing resources into township plans that hold no weight in planning outcomes, or give them some teeth by incorporating them into the planning scheme,” she said.

“In this case, it is evident to me that the residents in a fully developed Huntly don’t want to be gathering as a community in their town square admiring their petrol station.”

Cr Alden called on councillors to send the developer back to find another location, ideally “on the outskirts of town and leave Huntly its charming and heritage heart”.

But Matt Emond said a growing population around Huntly meant the town needed new services.

“In this situation we need to deal with the facts we have before us in a fair and equitable way,” Cr Emond said. “It is a commercial zone one, there is an aggregation of shops in that precinct as well.”

Malcolm Pethybridge noted the importance of a service station in Huntly as the last stop for fuel before Elmore.

Councillors voted for the proposal which will also include a convenience store open seven days a week.

– Sharon Kemp