A fight for the fu­ture

Geelong Advertiser - - YOUR SAY -

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.

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