A planning scheme amendment in Bendigo that would have seen farmland compulsorily acquired for the development of the Marong Business Park has been rejected by the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne.
The City of Greater Bendigo had sought a Public Acquisition Overlay 6 (PAO6) to the 311 hectare site identified for the Business Park to facilitate the compulsory acquisition of the land.
The land is owned by the Carter family, who clearly indicated to the Council that they did not wish to sell.
This had been previously considered by an independent Planning Panel, who did not support the application of the Public Acquisition Overlay and recommended that it be deleted from the original planning amendment.
The original Panel concluded there was insufficient justification to apply the overlay, and that continued farming would not prejudice the future use of the land, should it be required for a business park in the future – this was not accepted by the Council in their deliberations.
After careful consideration of all the arguments and after legal advice, the Minister decided the amendment to the Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme that would allow the acquisition does not further the objectives of planning in Victoria, taking into account relevant social, environmental and economic effects.
The Minister determined that the acquisition overlay did not strike the appropriate balance between the wishes of the landowners and the future commercial potential of the site. Community views were also considered in the decision.
The Victorian Planning Authority will now work with the City of Greater Bendigo to look at other ways to secure suitable land for businesses in the Bendigo area.
Developing a major business park remains a priority project for the Greater Bendigo region.
Alternative sites with good access to road and rail will now be considered. A well-planned development has the potential to generate significant job growth and business opportunities across industry, manufacturing, research and development and logistics and service sectors for the next 30-years.
Greater Bendigo’s population is expected to increase from 110,000 to 145,000 people by 2030. The population of Marong township is also expected to increase from 1,300 people to 8,000 over 20 years.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Planning Richard Wynne
“The proposed land acquisition by the Council was well intentioned but ignored the strongly held views of the land owners and was not justified in the circumstances”.
“In the absence of any agreement between the parties, the rejection of compulsory acquisition is the right outcome here.”
“The Victorian Planning Authority will now work with the Council at looking at alternative sites or a major business park elsewhere and the jobs this will create for Bendigo.”
Quotes attributable to Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards
“This has been a very difficult decision, however the Minister for Planning has followed due process and sought expert advice in making his decision to not publicly acquire this land.”
“I’ll continue to work with the Council on boosting jobs and ensuring Bendigo remains a great place to live – all the while bringing the community along with us.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020