Complex back on track

AFTER five years in the wilderness the Latrobe Regional Motorsport Complex project is back on the table.

At a recent Latrobe City Council meeting councillors Graeme Middlemiss and Sharon Gibson reignited discussions about the proposed Hernes Oak complex by confirming their renewed support of the project.

The facility, proposed for the corner of Marretts Road and Blacks Track on an area of about two hectares, was approved by council in 2006 but stalled the following year when an objection was taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which refused the planning permit.

Cr Middlemiss said VCAT had not objected to the plan and merely wanted more assurance on noise reduction and parking arrangements at the proposed site, but due to a “clerical error” within council a response was never issued.

“Due to an oversight when VCAT put it aside it wasn’t followed through so the whole process stopped,” Middlemiss said.

“Cr Gibson and I are still on the motorsports committee and we were a bit disappointed with that so what we’ve done is moved it back into council policy and the whole procedure should hopefully be on track to get underway again.

“It’s back to square one effectively.”

The original site, which council had a lease for from Yallourn Energy, proposed three speedway tracks, a motorcycle track, shooting stands, storage compounds, a kiosk and parking.

The shooting range will no longer be included in planning as alternative facilities have since been established, and Middlemiss said the next step in the process was to collaborate with the community and relevant clubs.

“The first stage is to identify if we can get the lease back, talk to the various clubs that were involved as to whether their needs have changed from the original design then come back to council with a proposal,” he said.

Gippsland Speedway Motorcycle Club’s John Ferguson said he was excited to hear the motorsports complex had returned to the council agenda.

“I’ve been trying for 20 to 30 years, ever since I gave up riding in Europe, to get something up and running,” he said.

“We’re all guns blazing; we want to get something going.”

With few high quality facilities available in the region, the addition of a Latrobe Valley speedway track would be a huge boost for the area, according to Middlemiss.

“The clubs actually produced letters from their organisations that they would bring state and the national championships up to a venue if it was established in the Latrobe Valley,” he said.

Middlemiss said funding for the complex would be determined by the level of involvement of local motorsport clubs in the development process.

Council’s report on the proposal was due in April 2013, and Middlemiss said the project was likely to be a phased development.

The facility originally met opposition from residents who were concerned about increased noise, dust and traffic as well as the impact on fauna and safety.

Middlemiss said community consultation would be an important part of the process but was optimistic about its success.

“Cr Gibson and I are much more positive that it will go ahead this time,” he said.