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16 September 2020
By DEAN LAWSON
Horsham mayor Mark Radford has described plans for a multi-million-dollar, six-level accommodation project in the Wimmera centre as a glowing example of growth potential in the region.
Cr Radford said a TM Design Group application to build a 44-room hotel in Baillie Street on behalf of Copper Investment Services consolidated a long-held belief that Horsham and the Wimmera were well positioned to develop and grow.
“It shows people from afar have seen opportunity in Horsham,” he said.
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“Simply put, it’s about someone looking at a map of Australia and wondering where the best place is to set up business and then sticking a drawing pin in Horsham.
“It is someone external showing enormous confidence in Horsham’s location and who we are and making a major investment.”
Developers have lodged a planning application with Horsham Rural City Council to build the $12-million to $14-million serviced-apartment block at 153-157 Baillie Street, opposite Lister House.
Plans are that an independent franchisee will operate the apartment building, which will be one of the tallest structures in Horsham, as a Quest Apartment Hotel.
Quest is one of Australia’s largest hotel and serviced-apartment operators with more than 170 properties across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.
It already has a presence in 13 regional locations including Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton, Warrnambool, Wodonga, Portland, Echuca and Sale.
Quest apartment hotels are designed as a ‘traveller’s home or office away from home’, with separate living, dining and sleeping areas, work stations and fully equipped kitchens and laundry facilities.
The Horsham council has advertised the permit application, for a building with a maximum height of 22.6 metres with a basement carpark and six storeys above ground.
Each of the 44 rooms have balconies and during busy periods can transform to convert to 76 rooms.
The building’s basement level will have 35 car spaces and a ground floor features facilities including a conference room, business lounge and gymnasium.
Cr Radford said an encouraging aspect of the proposal was that it was based on a long-term view of the region.
“Regardless of what’s happening at the minute, the developers have a long-term vision and that sort of recognition makes you stand up straighter and walk down the street with confidence. This is a positive thing and I hope people can see that,” he said.
“It won’t be just a one-off thing. Over time it has a domino effect. In a time when we can’t go overseas for a holiday for a while there’s a thought that ‘let’s go to western Victoria, let’s go to the Grampians and what’s in Horsham?’ I’m excited.”
Horsham council chief executive Sunil Bhalla agreed the proposal was significant for Horsham and showed confidence in the city and region.
“It will be a landmark building for Horsham and a positive addition to Baillie Street, adding to the architectural character and encouraging activity within the city,” he said.
“An economic report highlights the potential construction and employment benefits the investment will bring to Horsham.”
The report showed ‘there are broad business and leisure markets and Horsham’s regional service attracts a large year-long visitor market to the city’.
Figures accompanying the application showed the western Grampians tourism region had an estimated 490,000 domestic and international overnight visitors in 2019. About 223,000 overnight visitors stayed in the Horsham municipality.
Of all visitors to Horsham, 98 percent were domestic, with two percent international.
Critically, since 2012, the number of domestic travellers visitors to Horsham a year has more than doubled to 219,000.
Mr Bhalla said the apartment-block development represented a major proposal for Horsham and the council would assess the application in coming months.
“We encourage anyone affected to make a submission on the planning application,” he said.
Mr Bhalla said people could look at the application and its supporting documents in the planning section of the council’s website, hrcc.vic.gov.au.
The entire September 16, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!