Warrnambool City Council has decided to defer a decision on the future location of The Lookout residential rehabilitation centre in a shock move.

The council had been expected to consider a report on the proposal on Monday night but late Friday afternoon announced it would not.

Now the proponents of the project, Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre, say it will bypass the council and take it straight to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

In a media statement, council said a decision on the planning application for the rehabilitation centre would be made in the first half of 2019.

There has been some backlash from Dennington community members over the proposed location on Atkinsons Lane.

Mayor Tony Herbert said the council was aware that some members of the community were anticipating it would make a decision on the “significant proposal” on Monday night.

“Due to the complexity of the proposal and the intense public interest it has generated council has decided it requires more time to reach a final decision,” Mr Herbert said.

“It is an important planning matter and we want to ensure we have the time to reach a considered and balanced decision.

“I think everyone acknowledges the need and importance of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.

“At the same time we have received a number of objections to the proposal.”

WRAD director Geoff Soma said the planning application was fully lodged in August.

“The Lookout is an important community project and needs to happen,” he said.

“The WRAD committee has therefore decided to proceed to a VCAT hearing for it to make a determination. This process will allow those who made objections to be heard at a forum. This will allow the project to be assessed on its merits and benefits to the community.”

It is proposed The Lookout will be a 20-bed facility to assist people recovering from health issues related to drug and alcohol use.