MEMBER for Bass, Brian Paynter, says Wonthaggi’s land crisis will be one of the first items on his agenda, if the Liberals are elected to the State Government this year.
He’s calling on the State Government to invest $14.6 million into Wonthaggi’s north-east to help build basic infrastructure for new estates.
The infrastructure includes roads, kerb and channelling, and drainage.
The $14.6 million is also on the local council’s wish list, called ‘Wonthaggi North-East Precinct Infrastructure’.
The town desperately needs the money, before estates stall and investors lose confidence.
The council has told the State Government it would like the money through a low-cost loan scheme or directly.
Mr Paynter says the government should do the latter. He says they need to invest the $14.6 million in Wonthaggi, rather than giving a loan to the council.
“The notion of the local council borrowing money, around $14 million and doubling their debt, is ludicrous.
“The State Government should be investing, not loaning money,” he said.
Mr Paynter said the State Government needs to partner with the local council if they’re serious about addressing population issues.
“The Parklands Coastal Estate is a classic example of a project which could be done if the State Government was serious about decentralising Melbourne,” Mr Paynter said of the development in Wonthaggi’s north-east.
“They [the council] need the funds to match with the developers and provide the infrastructure that’s needed.”
Mr Paynter said the developers, real estate agents and contractors are all ready to start working on the Parklands Coastal Estate.
“People are ready and the demand is there.”
If the Liberals are elected at the State Election in November, Mr Paynter said they will introduce a population policy – which includes decentralisation and developing regional areas.
“The first conversation I will have, when we’re elected in November, is with the local council and saying ‘What do you need to assist you in developing Wonthaggi?’ and this [the precinct structure plan] will obviously be high on the list.”
The $14.6 million won’t cure Wonthaggi’s land crisis in the short-term.
The Parklands Coastal Estate is an eight to 10-year project for the entire estate, although blocks are already selling.
But the State Election in November is set to be a win-win for the people of Bass, as parties are expected to fight it out for votes with election promises.
Mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield said funding for the Wonthaggi North-East Precinct Structure Plan remains high on their list of advocacy items.
“We’re continuing to push for this funding, either through upfront grants or a low-cost loan scheme,” she said.
“Of course, council would be open to consider other options from the State Government that would help achieve the end result, which is to build the key infrastructure items in this precinct that will help Bass Coast meet current and future projected growth.
“Wonthaggi had been designated as a Regional Centre in both Plan Melbourne Refresh and Gippsland Regional Plan.
“Both of these guiding planning documents project Wonthaggi to take on some of the significant growth from the south-eastern metropolitan area of Melbourne.
“Building the infrastructure in the Wonthaggi North-East Precinct will accelerate the availability of the roughly 4400 residential lots that this area needs to keep pace with demand.”