In­vestor in­ter­est

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

An idea to de­velop a ma­jor con­ven­tion, re­cep­tion and com­mu­nity cen­tre on the banks of the Wim­mera River in Hor­sham has at­tracted the in­ter­est of in­de­pen­dent in­vestors.

Mem­ber for Lowan Emma Kealy con­firmed two prom­i­nent Hor­sham peo­ple had ap­proached her on sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions, seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about a project to ‘open up’ a river precinct.

Ms Kealy launched the con­cept, iden­ti­fy­ing the south­ern end of Hor­sham Show­ground east of Wim­mera Bridge as a prime com­mu­nity devel­op­ment site, ear­lier this year. She then fol­lowed up by gain­ing the back­ing of Vic­to­ria’s Coali­tion, which promised to in­vest $150,000 to plan for river-precinct devel­op­ment if the Lib­eral -Na­tion­als won gov­ern­ment later this month.

Ms Kealy said her per­sonal pref­er­ence was for the project to in­volve a re­cep­tion or con­ven­tion cen­tre with func­tion space that might in­clude restau­rant, café and pub­lic space ar­eas.

She said as well as be­ing an im­por­tant so­cial devel­op­ment prod­uct for the peo­ple of Hor­sham dis­trict, be­ing strate­gi­cally placed near the bridge and West­ern High­way traf­fic, it would also be a ma­jor tourism at­trac­tion.

Ms Kealy said the in­de­pen­dent in­vestors ap­proached her af­ter the Lib­eral-na­tion­als had pledged fi­nan­cial help with plan­ning.

“It was ob­vi­ous this idea im­me­di­ately cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of the com­mu­nity – not just the av­er­age per­son in the street but also oth­ers with en­trepreneur­ial cre­den­tials who could see the con­cept’s po­ten­tial,” she said.

“What this tells us is that this idea is gath­er­ing mo­men­tum and could be a turn­ing point for Hor­sham’s po­si­tion as a re­gional city.”

Ms Kealy said if enough or the right type of in­ter­est came from the pri­vate sec­tor, the project might qual­ify for Pub­lic Pri­vate Part­ner­ship.

Vic­to­rian Pub­lic Pri­vate Part­ner­ships, PPPS, are con­trac­tual re­la­tion­ships be­tween the state and pri­vate sec­tor to es­tab­lish pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture and re­lated ser­vices.

“This would be a con­sid­er­able achieve­ment for Hor­sham if it could hap­pen,” Ms Kealy said.

“It is highly un­usual for ru­ral and re­gional de­vel­op­ments and it usu­ally only hap­pens in metropoli­tan ar­eas – but the fact we’re even dis­cussing it sug­gests the con­cept is a good idea.”

Ms Kealy said con­fi­den­tial­ity meant she could not re­veal ei­ther of the in­ter­ested par­ties but con­firmed they were from Hor­sham and ‘def­i­nitely’ in­ter­ested in purs­ing the idea.

The area Ms Kealy has pin­pointed for her idea of a river­front devel­op­ment in­cludes age­ing sta­bles, a sugar-gum tree plan­ta­tion and a walk­ing track.

Hor­sham Ru­ral City Coun­cil is de­vel­op­ing an um­brella vi­sion for Hor­sham’s cen­tral ac­tiv­ity dis­trict and river precinct.

The Cbd-river Precinct Project cov­ers an area that in­cludes river frontage from the show­ground to Hor­sham Car­a­van Park and pushes north to Bail­lie Street.

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