Project stalls

FAILURE to connect to water and wastewater services soon could spell the end of a proposed development adjacent to the Sale Golf Club.

In what has been described as “crunch time” for the project, Wellington Shire Council will write to State Water Minister Peter Walsh supporting the Vantage Point development at Longford.

The developers are lobbying to allow other water corporations, apart from Gippsland Water, to manage an integrated water system.

Council believed the state government should implement a policy of competitive pricing by water corporations to assist the delivery of the Longford development.

The developers, Gippsland Links Pty Ltd, had offered to show the government how the policy would work.

The development will include about 300 house sites and a resort allotment.

In 2010 Gippsland Water withdrew an offer to share costs of connecting services to the site. With Longford not in its service area, Gippsland Water claimed it was not obliged to share the costs.

Speaking on behalf of Gippsland Links, consultant Peter Elliott said the developers have since looked at other options.

Gippsland Links offered to pay the entire cost of connecting to the system from Sale and Dutson Downs. Risks of constructing the connection under the Latrobe River were seen as too great, and the upfront price tag of at least $5 million was too high.

The developers offered to use an integrated system, involving on-site treatment for water and wastewater, with an initial cost of less than $2 million.

Mr Elliott said Gippsland Water would not consider managing that system as it had a preference for large centralised systems, while running it through a body corporate approach was seen as too risky financially.

Mr Elliott said the developers had approached other water corporations.

“There’s at least three of them that are extremely interested in taking over the system on completion,” he said.

“One of the things that they’re looking at is expanding their businesses.

“They see that probably one of the only ways they can expand their business is working outside their area.

“We know they’re interested, they’ve all said `if you get ministerial approval, we’ll negotiate with you’.”

Mr Elliott said there were discrepancies between local government planning and water corporation planning and difficulty with “satellite developments” away from central servicing. 

“To deal with these issues, the state government was looking at allowing water corporations to compete with each other.

“They’re very supportive of the concept of this project having a very modern integrated water system and being in competition between the water corporations,” Mr Elliott said.

“It’s crunch time. (The directors) may walk away from this if they can’t get somewhere with this proposal.”

Wellington Shire councillor Darren McCubbin said the project was more than a development on a golf course.

“It also provides significant opportunities for the Longford community,” he said.

“It contains a number of shared facilities

“This is something where the Longford community can have a real community facility, a really good golf course; there was even talk of having a venue that could serve Friday night bistro meals.

“It has been really stifled by the fact we haven’t been able to get water and sewerage to this development.

“It’s the beachhead towards further development in the Longford area.”

A Gippsland Water spokesperson said where a water and wastewater project was being proposed to only service a single development, such as Vantage Point, the works and all associated costs were the responsibility of the developer, regardless of whether the development was in a defined water or wastewater district.

“Gippsland Water is yet to be provided with sufficient enough information to allow for an assessment of the developer’s proposed servicing arrangements of water and wastewater,” the spokesperson said.

“This is a critical requirement of Gippsland Water to ensure the long term technical and financial viability of accepting a development is in the best interest of Gippsland Water’s current and future customer base.”

The spokesperson did not wish to comment on the proposal of another water corporation taking over the project.