A MAJOR development set to reshape the northern end of Wallan will go ahead after Mitchell Shire Council gave the project a green light last month.
A nearly 14,000 square metre lot bounded by the Northern Highway, Bentinck Street and William Street will be developed to include a 7-Eleven service station and attached convenience store, as well as five retail premises, interfacing with High and William streets.
The development, to be known as Wallan Junction, will take up about two thirds of the site, with plans for a future residential development along Bentinck Street to fill the final third.
Councillors voiced enthusiasm for the project, which they hoped would transform the northern end of Wallan from ‘a dog’s breakfast’ into a gateway site that would support jobs and beautify the area with landscaping works.
“This is a fairly major development in the northern aspect of Wallan. That area is pretty much a dog’s breakfast at the moment, so hopefully this will help tidy that up and lift the quality of the offering at that end of town,” Cr Rob Eldridge said.
“It also puts some more premises on the market because there is a bit of a stranglehold on the leasing of shops in Wallan, so it adds another dimension to that to put some [downward] pressure on the prices.”
Cr Nathan Clark said the development was needed to support the rapidly expanding Wallan population.
“We’ll be looking at people being employed, and economic development is something that is critical in our growth areas,” he said.
“As we build houses we should be building commercial facilities and also industrial to provide local jobs so our residents don’t have to travel exorbitant distances to get to and from work.
“There is also good connectivity to the traffic lights with a footpath provided as well.
“It’s got many more pros than it does cons.”
Council received 15 objections to the project, most centred on traffic concerns and the lack of a perceived need for another service station in Wallan.
Cr Louise Bannister said she understood residents’ concerns but did not have grounds to oppose the development.
“I do agree that Wallan probably doesn’t need another petrol station,” she said.
“I think the difficulty here is that the zoning allows for a petrol station to go there, and according to state planning rules the developer of that site has the right to construct a petrol site there.
“If we did go along with the objections to the petrol station, it would probably go to VCAT and I think they would most likely win.
“I understand that people get frustrated with council sometimes and think we don’t listen, but we do listen. However there is a limitation to what we can do in these circumstances.”
Cr Rhonda Sanderson said the application met all planning requirements.
“It provides a strong sense of arrival into Wallan, unlike the current one … so it ticks a lot of the boxes from the Wallan Structure Plan,” she said.
“It provides significant and diverse employment opportunities, which strengthens the local economy. It’s a good development.”