Report looks at industrial sites west of Sale

AREAS near Wurruk and West Sale Airport have been put forward for industrial development.

The draft West Sale and Wurruk Industrial Land Supply Strategy, set to be endorsed by Wellington Shire Council today, recommends land to the east of the airport and to the west of Wurruk as preferred sites for potential industrial use.

The purpose of the draft strategy is to provide reasons to justify, rezone and facilitate the industrial development of an appropriate area of land in the short to medium term to the west of Sale. 

The strategy, by a Melbourne-based planning consultant, considered three candidate areas nominated for future industrial growth in the 2010 Sale, Wurruk and Longford Structure Plan: To the west of the existing industrial zoned land in Wurruk; to the north of the Princes Highway and to the east of the West Sale Airport; and to the south of the Princes Highway and east of the Fulham Correctional Centre.

All three areas are in farming zones.

The consultant recommended the Wurruk and West Sale Airport sites as preferred areas for industrial use because of fewer constraints.

According to the report, industrial land in Sale is fragmented across multiple precincts, with some conflicting with residential areas and having poor transport accessibility.

There are about 19 hectares of vacant industrial land in the Sale area across four precincts, along with several larger sites which are either underutilised or disused.

Only the Wurruk and east Sale precincts are considered appropriate and available to provide any “meaningful opportunities” to new industrial business, along with the potential strategic opportunities associated with large businesses seeking to occupy disused properties such as the former Nylex site.

Gaps identified in the existing land supply relate to the lack of opportunities for large scale industrial sites separate from sensitive uses and ready access to major roads.

Major industrial business opportunities identified in the strategy include local industrial growth led by growing population needs, such as construction, workshops, storage, mechanics and equipment hire.

Other opportunities are the expansion or relocation of existing businesses to the candidate areas which could provide larger sites, better separation from sensitive uses and easier access to the highway, and new medium-sized industrial businesses seeking proximity to existing regional produce, suitable labour supply and ready access to the highway.

Longer term, according to the strategy, there was the opportunity to utilise rail and air freight to distribute and export products which may also attract certain businesses to the West Sale candidate site.

The report recommended the West Sale site as the primary opportunity to provide industrial land.

“Rezoning of industrial land in this location has the potential to form part of a broader economic precinct which incorporates the West Sale Aerodrome and surrounding public land, supported by major road, rail and air distribution infrastructure,” the report stated.

With potential challenges with development in this area, such as multiple owners and a variety of existing uses for the land, it was recommended west Wurruk be a secondary area to pursue for rezoning.

West Wurruk was considered the best opportunity for short term development, given the low infrastructure costs and proximity to an existing industrial area.

Key economic strengths of Wellington Shire listed in the draft strategy include defence, aviation, high quality agricultural land, and oil and gas production.

However, concerns over energy production in the Latrobe Valley, reduced timber allocation of mills, milk price volatility and industrial relations disputes in the oil and gas industry have created uncertainty regarding the prospects of major industries near Sale.

Traffic updates were outlined in the draft strategy.

If the West Sale rezoning went ahead, two access points from Sale-Heyfield Rd would be needed, while highway roundabouts need upgrading for extra lanes to the Sale-Heyfield Rd and Williams Drive approaches.

The roundabout at the intersection of the highway and Hunt Place would also need to be upgraded to cope with increased traffic for the west Wurruk option.

The draft strategy was prepared in consultation with council, state government departments and agencies, businesses, local landowners, the RAAF and Fulham Correctional Centre.

If council endorses the draft strategy, it will to be exhibition for public comment.

Submissions will be considered by council before formally adopting the strategy, expected to be early next year.