THE City of Greater Bendigo might be willing to take on 'more active roles' to deliver much-needed industrial land, including acting as a sole investor and developer.
Establishing one or more new greenfield sites is at the heart of an industrial land development strategy to come before Bendigo councillors when they meet this evening.
The 42-page strategy and accompanying 116-page background report outline the perils of failing to address the need, including forgoing jobs within five years.
The documents say the city has conducted feasibility and infrastructure assessments of a small number of sites.
It is still working through the process of identifying, rezoning and "ultimately facilitating" the delivery of one or more business parks, according to the strategy.
Exactly what that facilitation role might entail is up for discussion, depending on the sites and their owners.
"Victorian councils commonly assume policy setting, planning and regulatory roles in the provision of urban land supply," the background report says.
"However, as a regional city with a unique regional context, the city could consider adopting more active roles in the delivery of industrial land such as advocating for service connectivity, partnering with landowners or developers in the delivery, or acting as the sole investor and developer as the case may be."
In the documents, the city commits to further consultation with the community, stakeholders and businesses once a site is selected.
It wants to have determined a site, or sites, for a business park in the next six months. The city also wants feasibility analyses and a master plan finalised within six to 12 months.
Story continues below proposed strategy
Strategy and growth director Bernie O'Sullivan said the city had moved on from the 313 hectares of land west of Marong, which it failed to compulsorily acquire from the Carter family.
The "Marong West" site still appears in the strategy and background report as existing land zoned for comprehensive development.
However, it is acknowledged "the land is currently being used for farming" and use for industrial development "would depend on land owner intentions."
The city recommended planning controls be reviewed "to ensure the longer-term potential of the land for industry, only when other land is developed."
It suggested the long-term need for a business park at Marong West be considered when the entire strategy is reviewed in five years.
Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne rejected the City of Greater Bendigo's plans to forcibly purchase a section of the Carter family's farm in July 2018 and reassured them there were no further avenues for appeal.
Efforts to acquire the land had been ongoing for 16 years.
Mr O'Sullivan said the city had to acknowledge the land was there and zoned for industrial use when developing its new strategy.
"We can't just pretend it's not there," he said.
Mr O'Sullivan said mention of the Marong West site was not intended to drew any further attention to it.
"The city has put its energy into finding a new site, or sites," he said.
Story continues below background report
The city needs at least 170-hectares of new industrial land in the next 30 years.
Less than 100 hectares of industrial land are available in Greater Bendigo - a supply the city says is likely to last 11 years, at most.
Little of the available land is more than one hectare in size, and the larger sites could be used up within seven years.
A review of existing sites found the city's industrial land was fragmented. It was also constrained by a number of factors, including transport, proximity to sensitive uses, and the environment.
There are 22 existing industrial precincts in Greater Bendigo.
The city knows it wants to create a business park at the Bendigo Airport.
It was also interested in expanding and better using the precinct at Huntly, which includes the Bendigo Livestock Exchange.
Story continues below summary of submissions to strategy
"Bendigo will need an increase of over 3300 jobs in industry to 2036 to match population growth and servicing needs," the strategy said.
"Without the provision of future industrial land, Bendigo will start to forgo industrial jobs as early as 2025."
The strategy said the city needed to plan for a pipeline of industrial land supply to remain competitive to retain, attract and grow existing and new industries and businesses.
It said Greater Bendigo had less than half the zoned industrial land Greater Geelong offered, and about a third less than Latrobe Valley.
Ballarat would have about as much industrial land as Greater Bendigo, were it not for 438-hectares of designated industry and employment land in a special use zone.
The City of Greater Bendigo believed there was a strong case for government funding for regional development employment projects of the scale needed in its municipality.
"Development of a business case should be factored into the early planning processes to commence such advocacy and position the region for a timely response," its strategy said.
The city also plans to advocate for western and northern bypass road to reduce truck thoroughfare through Bendigo.
Tonight's council meeting starts at 6pm and will be live streamed online via the City of Greater Bendigo's website.
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