INVESTORS are seeking legal advice on whether they can challenge the refusal of a planning permit for installation of 19 electronic gaming machines as the key to a proposed upgrade of a west Warrnambool hotel.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on Friday upheld a Warrnambool City Council decision last year to refuse a permit for pokies at Rafferty’s Tavern.
Now the Cook Beaumont & Partners investment group is considering another appeal in its bid for an $800,000 revamp of the tavern.
“We are seeking legal advice on the validity of the VCAT decision,” group spokesman Peter Cook told The Standard.
“This advice should be available by the end of the week. If we are ultimately unsuccessful there is nothing to stop other venues in Warrnambool taking up the 19 machines we purchased under the Warrnambool cap.”
VCAT ruled that the risks of social and economic disadvantage to the west Warrnambool community outweighed any benefits of the proposal.
However, Mr Cook said the decision represented a loss for the whole community because without approval for the pokies the proposed revamp would not proceed.
“Our redesign would turn a tired hotel into a very good family venue with a 300-seat bistro and functions space,” he said.
“The 19 machines would not add any more pokies to the city than there are at the moment and our argument is that west Warrnambool people who want to use pokies will travel to other venues anyway.
“People should be able to choose for themselves if they want to go to a pokies venue and not be governed by the council as the moral policeman.
“There were only two objections to our application. If west Warrnambool people were against the proposal there would have been many more objections.
“It’s $600,000 that won’t be spent with local trades and suppliers on the renovations and the additional on-going jobs that won’t happen.
“With the Shamrock Hotel at Dennington closed and without the Rafferty’s redevelopment, people from the growing west Warrnambool area will have to travel to enjoy better entertainment options.
“There is a bigger picture here that has not been thought through.”
n A hearing date in the tribunal has not yet been set for the Flying Horse Inn Bar and Brewery to challenge a city council decision refusing its application to install eight pokies.