A fight for the future
IT is the ultimate battle between traditional and new industry.
The Hamilton Group, the force behind the redevelopment of North Geelong’s Federal Mills precinct, has plans to convert the nearby former Powerhouse building into a seven-storey office complex.
The proposal ticks a lot of boxes — it will breathe new life into a currently disused parcel of waterfront land, has the potential to attract a large organisation to the area and create more employment opportunities, and will transform a current eyesore into a beacon of our city’s growth.
But the plan has its detractors.
The site of the proposed development abuts the southern fringe of the port precinct in an area zoned as industrial, and several long-term port users are so concerned about the mix of industry in the area that they have launched legal appeals to halt the development.
GrainCorp, the Victorian Regional Channels Authority and the Barrett Burston Malting Company have all launched appeals to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal since the Powerhouse proposal was approved by the City of Greater Geelong last month.
They are concerned the influx of the forecast 1000 hitech jobs into the Mackey Rd site could threaten the jobs of the many who rely on the Port of Geelong. It’s a tricky situation. Both sides are citing the city’s growth and transformation as key reasons for their argument — the Hamilton Group believing that transforming the disused site will attract a major organisation in an area where there previously had been no activity, and port users believing an office complex would lead to complaints about necessary industrial activity at the port and stymie future growth.
But if viewed as a microcosm of the rest of the region, which has been undergoing its own economic transformation in recent years, it is difficult to see a scenario where both can’t be allowed to prosper.
It would be shame for a project of such potential to be lost altogether.