Many drivers remember the days when an attendant would fill up your tank for you, but a new 24/7 servo is going in the opposite direction.

An unmanned 24/7 petrol station is coming to Yarra Junction, despite concerns over noise, smell and its proximity to a childcare centre.

Yarra Ranges councillors approved an application for 2420 Warburton Highway at Tuesday night’s council meeting, for the unattended service station, automatic car wash and associated dog wash.

The station will have six fuel pumps and a two-bay car wash operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with ancillary vacuums and a dog wash activity with reduced operation hours.

Unmanned petrol stations require motorists to pre-pay for their fuel before they fill up.

“An unattended service station…is generally less common, however in recent times businesses are opting for pay-first option after services 10pm – overnight – with or without an employee present on site,” the council report said.

“The proposal seeks to operate with one employee for maintenance and deliveries during

the daytime hours. This employee is not guaranteed every day.”

There will be an emergency number for customers to ring for any emergencies.

In approving the development, councillors went against the recommendation from council planners, who recommended they refuse the proposal, finding it did not achieve the objectives and strategies of numerous planning policies.

The planners had concerns about unreasonable noise and light pollution at night and were also worried about rubbish and odour associated with the operations of an unmanned service station and car wash.

The site of the proposed servo, currently home to a car and tyre repair business, is zoned General Residential – to the west is a commercial building and beyond this residential properties; to the east is the Yarra Junction commercial strip and the heritage listed Cunningham Hotel; to the north is the Yarra Junction Recreation Reserve; and to the south a childcare centre and residential properties beyond this.

Resident Shona voiced her concerns about the development at the meeting, fearing it could be a good spot for people to loiter after dark; the fact it was so close to a childcare centre; noise and air pollution; and the removal of high value trees.

Cr Len Cox said he couldn’t see the need for an all night service station and was worried about the smell of petrol drifting over to the childcare centre.

“I wouldn’t want one of my children there sniffing petrol during the day – it would be poor, it would be disappointing, and it could affect their health,” he said.

Cr David Eastham was also opposed to the servo and doubted its use in an emergency situation.

“As someone impacted during the storms, without power it’s very hard to pay for fuel especially in an unmanned service station,” he said.

But Mayor Jim Child said the site had been used as a car workshop and petrol station for 60 years, and no residents abutted the property.

He said the servo would benefit people from other parts of the Yarra Valley who came to Yarra Junction to do their shopping or visit the doctor.

“It’s a very vibrant activity centre – the only thing you can’t do there is buy a drop of fuel,” he said.

Cr Fiona McAllister also supported the application, and noted it had only attracted two objections, which was evidence of support from the community.

Cr Richard Higgins, also a local police officer, said there was a need for a 24/7 petrol station in the area.

“Unfortunately I know all too well having driven up there 24 hours a day for the last 25 years how much fuel is hard to get late at night,” he said.

“The idea of a 24 hour operation that isn’t staffed eliminates the need for security and safety measures to be put in place.

“I wish we could say that we don’t have to do that, but the reality is that’s why most of the service stations who used to operate 24/7 up that way no longer operate.”

AP Planning consultant Annabel Paul, speaking on behalf of the applicant, said the site had a long history of non-residential use, and had been used as a car and tyre repair business for 21 years, and before that was a service station.

She said the site was next to a hotel and glazier and had highway frontage, and was not next to any homes.

Ms Paul said Yarra Junction was one of the largest townships in Yarra Junction that didn’t have a petrol station.

Extracted in full from: Unattended service station approved for 2420 Warburton Highway Yarra Junction | Herald Sun