Council asked to back plan to attract business to East Bendigo industrial estate

VACANT: Proposed changes to planning controls are expected to attract business to the near-empty Wellsford Estate, as pictured the year after PFD Food Services opened.
VACANT: Proposed changes to planning controls are expected to attract business to the near-empty Wellsford Estate, as pictured the year after PFD Food Services opened.

CITY of Greater Bendigo councillors are being asked to endorse a request to change a planning control on a proposed industrial estate that has sat almost empty for several years.

In a report to go before the council at Wednesday’s ordinary meeting, statutory planning manager Ross Douglas said planning controls on the Wellsford Estate industrial area in East Bendigo were inconsistent with other overlays in the area, particularly height restrictions and boundary setbacks

“The restrictiveness of these requirements is inhibiting businesses from locating at the site,” Mr Douglas said.

As such, Mr Douglas recommends the council formally ratify a request to the Planning Minister to amend a design and development overlay that applies to the land.

The estate is occupied by just one business, even though it was in July 2003 that the council first approved rezoning of the land from a rural living to industrial 1 zone and introduced planning provisions with the aim of transforming it into a food manufacturing precinct.

PFD Food Services opened its premises on the estate in October 2008.

Two other amendments to planning controls have been introduced since then: one in 2010 to permit “compatible uses and developments” along with food manufacturing, and another in 2013 removing the reference to food manufacturing to allow all industrial 1 uses.

Mr Douglas said the amendment request to the minister was prompted by the “potential for a significant development”.

The proposed amendment, if made, would allow permits to be sought for buildings and structures taller than 25 metres, and for buildings and works within the specified setback distances.

Mr Douglas said the amendment would “facilitate a wider range of development”, making a positive economic impact.

The council will have to pay statutory fees of $3763.80 to cover the processing of the amendment.

Mr Douglas said it was “reasonable to provide this to assist the establishment of this important industry”.