Fifteen million dollar baby

Member for Morwell Russell Northe with Rennie Property principal Peter Rennie and sales agent Mary Ioannou alongside the newly-sold site for the Morwell Food Manufacturing Precinct. photograph michelle slater

Michelle Slater

A former Hazelwood Power Station engineer has purchased 97 hectares in Morwell for $15 million to lure new industries to the Valley as part of a long-awaited food manufacturing precinct.

The parcel of land on the corner of Princes Drive and Alexanders Road sits next to Bega Cheese and will be divided into 44 lots for commercial and industrial development.

The project had already attracted a $10 million state government windfall to install infrastructure such as sewage, electricity and site access to fast track the development.

Latrobe City had also previously issued planning approvals for new industrial lots in 2011 but the site has sat dormant for years awaiting development.

The precinct has the potential to support 1700 ongoing manufacturing jobs once up and running.

Developer and purchaser John Alom said he hoped for civil works to start by the end of next year, pending the submission and approval of detailed designs.

Mr Alom said he formed a connection to Morwell when he picked up work as a Hazelwood intern in 2005 after he relocated from Bangladesh, stating it was his first taste of regional Australia.

The now Melbourne-based developer said he was looking forward to working with Latrobe City and the community to attract industries to the site.

“When I saw the opportunity for developing the food precinct, I was really excited. People will be excited to see something being developed and not just a site sitting empty,” Mr Alom said.

“Food can be processed to supply the Australian and export markets, as Australian food is a brand everyone admires.”

Vendor Rennie Property principal sales agent Peter Rennie said he had fielded interest from a number of buyers before it was picked by Mr Alom.

“It’s great for Morwell and the area to create jobs and encourage people to move here. The land has access to a rail siding so it’s great opportunity for food processors to move in,” Mr Rennie said.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said the purchase would be a “boon” for Morwell, particularly on the back of the state government investment to install key services.

“This will bear fruit in terms of jobs and industry in Morwell, and hopefully this sends a strong signal to others,” Mr Northe said.

“Investment is essential at this time of transition occurring in the energy and timber industries and it’s important we have diversification.”

Latrobe City chief executive to CEO Steven Piasente said council was “looking forward to meeting the property owner to discuss future development opportunities for the site, which is zoned to support jobs growth in the city”.