New factory outlet bid

Another attempt to rescue scuttled plans for a factory outlet centre in Wollongong has come from an unlikely source.

Independent councillor Greg Petty will put a notice of motion to next week's Wollongong council meeting calling for council staff to investigate other sites within the city that could house a factory outlet centre.

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The move comes after councillors voted 7-6 on two separate occasions to reject plans from Leda Holdings to set up a factory outlet and homemaker centre on land zoned for industrial use at Kembla Grange.

Leda had sought changes to the zoning to allow bulky goods and factory outlet uses within the site's light industrial zoning.

Cr Petty was among the councillors who voted against the proposal.

He yesterday denied his latest move was an about-face, saying he had always been in favour of the concept, provided it was on correctly zoned land.

"The issue for me has always been the use of inappropriately zoned land," he said. "I have always said I would support such a proposal on an appropriately zoned block of land."

Cr Petty is seeking councillors' support to have a report brought to the April 23 council meeting outlining suitable sites close to major transport hubs that could accommodate an outlet centre.

While asking council staff to identify possible sites, Cr Petty also said that under his proposal, land owners who might have suitable sites and developers who were interested in tackling such a project would be invited to register their interest.

"A factory outlet, if done properly, could be a boon for the Illawarra, not just for employment and construction, but also for tourism and indeed the whole local economy," he said.

"The motion seeks to get the best outcome by understanding what suitable land is currently available, council or private, who from the community might be interested, and looking for the best method to move forward.

"I want to ensure a financial benefit to local businesses - the cleaners, the electricians - all the small businesses that underpin our local economy."

Cr Petty said he also wanted the report to detail any possible income streams the council could generate from a factory outlet, including land rent and rates.

"I would not rule out the council having an interest in the development that would allow either a revenue stream to council or tourist information services," he said.

Councillors will consider the notice of motion on Monday night.

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