Focus on Gillies factory's planning rules

PLANNING amendments could pave the way for retail stores or high-density housing to be developed at the old Gillies factory. 

Bendigo councillors will vote this week on whether to change planning restrictions that apply to the former Gillies pie factory and Crystal Ice sites in Garsed Street.

The council put forward proposed amendments to encourage “long-term prospects” from potential developers.

City of Greater Bendigo’s director of planning and development Prue Mansfield said the moves would give certainty to developers on what they could and couldn’t build at the site. 

“We’ve been working with the owners to get the right changes to get development at the site... the owners and the council agreed the planning controls were inadequate.” 

The amendments proposed by the council would allow greater scope for developments and would increase retail floor space availability from 500 square metres up to 8000.

Garsed Street residents and business owners have called for something to be done about the area, which has smashed windows and graffiti-covered walls.

First National commercial and industrial estate agent Tom Harrop said the biggest barrier to selling the property was a principle on retaining the building’s facade.

Mr Harrop said the empty site was valued about $1.25 million but was a fairly difficult site to work with for investors.

In their amendment proposal, the council envisaged a mix of retail shops, offices or residential apartments to rejuvenate the abandoned site.

Bendigo Traders Association president Ross White said there was no demand for another shopping centre.

He said any retail development at the site would hurt other retailers.

“There is a lot of pressure at the moment for traders already – why would you open up more retail space?” he said.

“I think high-density residential development yes, but retail, no.”

Ms Mansfield said the vision for the site would be best served by a development that fitted with future opportunities of the precinct.

Councillors will vote on the proposed amendments at tomorrow’s council meeting.

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