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Romsey Hotel pokies decision process awaits

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Grace Frost
Grace Frost
Hi, I'm Grace Frost. I was honoured to report for the Review as their Digital Journalist from mid-2022 to the beginning of 2024. Ive since made a move to the Herald Sun.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council has provided insight into when residents can expect to hear its formal position on a Romsey Football Netball Club, RFNC, application for 50 gaming machines at the Romsey Hotel.

The RFNC last month applied to the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission, VGCCC, for 50 electronic gaming machines at the Romsey Hotel, which it plans to lease and operate if the application is granted.

Council is yet to announce its formal position on the application.

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Council unanimously agreed at its October 25 meeting that officers would prepare a Social and Economic Impact Assessment, SEIA, on the electronic gaming machine application. 

An independent consultant will deliver the SEIA report, which will assist councillors to make a decision for or against the application.

“The information and work delivered to complete the SEIA over the coming two months will support councillors to make an informed decision,” council stated on its website.

As of November 15, council had yet to receive a formal notification regarding the application from the VGCCC.

A council spokesperson said the formal notification from VGCCC would ‘start the clock’ on a four-month countdown to the VGCCC hearing.

The notification would also instil a 60-day deadline for submissions, which would determine a date for when council needed to make its submission and when its position on the case would be revealed.

Council opposed gaming machines at the Romsey Hotel in a 2004-2005 legal battle when owner Jim Hogan first applied for 30 gaming machines at the venue.

Council appealed a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, VCAT, decision in the Supreme Court, resulting in the decision to approve the machines being overturned and the application denied.

The decision is still regularly referenced in legal cases as it precedents that community character and residents’ insight should be considered in hearings.

Council directed members of the public to make their own submissions to the VGCCC website at bit.ly/3tKguDW, where they can also request to attend and speak at the hearing.

“Members of the public who don’t have access to email/internet are welcome to provide feedback to council to inform council’s submission,” a council spokesperson said.

Submissions can be made in-person at council’s customer service centres or by sending a written submission to PO Box 151, Kyneton VIC 3444,”

Council also provided information to residents about VGCCC’s decision-making process.

“The Commission cannot approve an application if the proposal would have a negative impact on the community,” council stated.

“The social and economic impacts associated with an application are considered by decision-makers.

“The relative importance of social and economic impacts within each assessment process is determined by the VGCCC, not by council.”

Council also confirmed that, as of November 9, no planning permit application had been made to council for alterations to the Romsey Hotel building. 

“Use and installation of the gaming machines may require a planning permit, subject to the controls of Clause 52.28 of the Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme,” council stated.

“A planning permit would be required for buildings and works.”

Council will be allowed to appear at the public hearing to present evidence in support of its submission, if it makes one.

For more information, visit the Romsey Hotel – Electronic Gaming Machine application page on council’s website at .

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