Kembla Grange outlet debate reignites

A long-running proposal to rezone Kembla Grange industrial land to make way for a factory outlet is set to be debated by Wollongong councillors for the fourth time in two years.

Despite repeated attempts to get the development approved, a new report has revealed no change in Wollongong City Council administration’s stance on the controversial plans.

Staff have maintained the best option, based on ‘‘the wider public interest’’, is for the site to retain its existing light industrial zoning.

Developer Leda Holdings’ proposal to alter the site’s zoning to include provisions for bulky goods and retail use and make way for a 35,000-square metre complex on Wyllie Road dates back to 2008. 

It has been rejected four times since then.

The Labor state government knocked it back in 2009 and council administrators told the applicant it was not supported in 2010.

Then, after a change in planning rules due to the state election, councillors rejected it twice in 2012 with those against the proposal saying it would undermine other retail hubs across the city, which were facing major struggles to survive, and reduce the availability of prime industrial land.

However, in October last year Liberal councillor Bede Crasnich flagged considerable public support for the outlet, and attempted to revive the plan.

Councillors resolved to seek a report into various rezoning options and will consider these at next week’s meeting.

In the report, which cost $2970, staff said the existing zone should be maintained, as the land was a ‘‘strategically important reserve’’ to support the growth in freight and other port-related industries.

Additionally, they said marking the land as a business zone would likely impact on Dapto and Unanderra businesses, as well as future West Dapto town centres.

‘‘A retail use could generate more direct jobs than an industrial use, however it is likely that the jobs would be distributed from existing town centres,’’ the report said. 

Further, they said employment opportunities should be focused in existing centres, to allow access for youth, aged, long-term unemployed and disabled people and to promote social interaction and public transport use.

Councillors will consider the report at Monday night’s meeting.

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