Bold plans for land

Multiple land development fronts are currently being progressed across Latrobe City, with potentially thousands more land lots to come on line.

The past year has seen Latrobe City Council, with expert planning assistance from several State Government agencies, amplify its efforts to “get land to market” across the municipality.

Just 12 months ago council came under fire from Latrobe Valley developers who said its “rigid” application of development plan overlays on large precincts of local land had stalled progress on 800 hectares rezoned by the State Government in February 2011.

Today, development plans are finalised for 340 hectares, allowing for 3200 lots, while a further 6150 lots across just under 1000ha are also in the pipeline.

A development plan for a 1330-lot Traralgon North precinct will also be considered by council at its meeting next Monday night.

At the same meeting council will consider endorsing a draft concept plan to bring forward the region’s largest potential growth front at Lake Narracan.

Speaking with The Express this week Latrobe’s manager city planning Chris Wightman said the plan to develop around 610ha – potentially up to 3000 lots – offered a “great opportunity” for Latrobe’s growth as a city and, if endorsed by council, would have a significant regional impact.

Last year the State Government contributed $100,000 to council to help facilitate the development of Lake Narracan’s surrounds, citing the area’s “social and economic importance to the Valley”.

The scale of this proposal requires the preparation of a precinct structure plan, something Mr Wightman said had not been undertaken in Latrobe before and was rarely done in regions.

A series of background studies had been completed and early consultation had already taken place with relevant user groups and landowners, he said.

Mr Wightman said much more extensive work would take place if the draft concept plan was approved but so far the proposal had been “generally, well received”.

The plan details a vision for enhancing Lake Narracan’s foreshore amenity as well as the provision of recreational opportunities and open spaces, ancillary commercial possibilities and a range of other infrastructure requirements to service a major residential development.

Mr Wightman said if council endorsed the draft plan next week, a public exhibition and consultation period would follow before a detailed plan was completed.

Progressing such a large-scale proposal would be inevitably time-consuming, he said, but council’s planning team hoped to condense a number of planning processes to see the space rezoned in a timely way if draft and detailed plans were adopted by council.

“We are excited about the opportunities this offers,” Mr Wightman said.

He said it was too early to predict when activity might commence on-site given that would also be “up to the developers.”

Mr Wightman said while large parcels of land across Latrobe were now at various stages of progress, it was “important to note” market demand would drive much of the subsequent development “over time”.

In Traralgon’s Erin Park and Cross’s Road, work is underway and a planning permit for subdivision has just been issued for 24ha in Franklin Place.

Morwell’s development fronts were “more constrained”, Mr Wightman said, but work on Heritage Boulevard’s stage one was well underway with multiple stages foreshadowed.

A development plan has been approved for land at the base of Crinigan Road with a proposal before council to rezone part of that 80ha parcel.

He said council expected a development plan would soon be lodged for a Latrobe Road West precinct, incorporating the former Sunday Market site, council land and a proposed 120-lot residential development in Toners Lane.

Another development plan is expected to be lodged soon for 87ha on land west of Churchill’s Gaskin Park.

Council officers are currently assessing a development plan for 41ha of Waterloo Road land in Moe, west of the racecourse while a development plan has already been endorsed for a potential 220 lots over 94ha bordered by Coach Road and the golf club around Monash Road, Newborough.

Mr Wightman said the latter land, known as Monash Views, offered a “very different residential product” and planning permits were being assessed now.

While he recognised the need for development plan overlays on large land parcels had initially triggered “anxiety” among developers, Mr Wightman said the plans ensured a “high level of urban design”, provided “certainty for all landowners” and negated the need to later “put planning permits out to notice”.