Slow start to Morwell’s future

Close to a year since its birth and the State Government-funded Future Morwell project is yet to see any concrete changes.

So far $650,000 has been allocated to the first two projects of the initiative, slated to transform the town centre of Morwell.

The first will be an overarching Urban Design Revitalisation Plan still being finalised, which is intended to guide the direction of the initiative’s four remaining, interrelated projects.

Future Morwell’s remaining projects involve a city entrance, events, as well as communication and branding.

Latrobe City Council chief executive Gary Van Driel would not disclose the amount already spent on designs and consultation, but said further funding was required to complete all physical works.

“An important point to note is that Project 1 does not involve any physical changes; it is the development of a plan,” Mr Van Driel said.

“The revitalisation plan will inform the second project in redeveloping part of the Morwell central business district.

“The broad intention of the second project is to construct shared pathways and urban design features that will engage existing businesses, attract new retail operations and new investment to Morwell.”

Initially provided about $1.4 million from the government following the Hazelwood mine fire, Latrobe City administers the funds as per the requirements of the agreement.

Signatures from council, ReActivate Latrobe Valley-RMIT University and community group representatives penned in February last year have formed the project’s memorandum of understanding.

This notes the project control group – including representatives from Advance Morwell, Morwell Traders and the Morwell and District Community Recovery Committee – which has spent 2015 engaging with the public to help shape the town’s future.

“Future Morwell is currently working to deliver Project 1, (which is) the key to the development of the subsequent four projects,” Mr Van Driel said.

“Once Project 1 is in final draft and provided to council, council will then be required to execute its responsibilities under the contract.”

These responsibilities include community consultation, internal oversight and alignment to the Municipal Strategic Statement, as well as engagement and consultation with external agencies. In addition, council’s responsibilities extend to briefings for Latrobe City councillors, incorporating any amendments and securing a council resolution.

“Once a council resolution has been secured and the Urban Design Revitalisation Plan accepted, work can commence on finalising Project 2,” Mr Van Driel said.

“There is adequate funding to complete Project 1. Project 2 is still in development.

“Council will work with the community to prioritise projects and will then seek to access appropriate funding sources.”