Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Prospective Kembla Grange factory outlet developers plead case

The consortium behind a proposed factory outlet and bulky goods centre at Kembla Grange has made a last-ditch attempt to convince Wollongong councillors to support the project.

Representatives from international development group Leda Holdings and the site's owner, Total Recycling, met councillors yesterday afternoon to champion a rezoning proposal that would pave the way for the $110 million complex to be built on 18ha of land on Wyllie Rd.

Councillors will consider whether to allow retail use on the site, now zoned for industrial purposes, at Monday night's council meeting.

The proponents said the project would have enormous economic and social benefits, employing 800 people during construction and about 1000 shop workers once complete.

"We're asking the council to back this proposal in principle, so it can go on public exhibition and the community gets the chance to have its say," Total Recycling's Bill Bartlett told councillors yesterday.

The group earlier this week warned councillors the project would be "dead in the water" if the rezoning proposal was knocked back on Monday.

"We're not asking for development approval, or for the council to give final approval to the rezoning. All we're asking is councillors allow this to progress through to the next stage so the public can comment," Mr Bartlett said yesterday.

He also cited a 2009 IRIS survey of 404 Illawarra residents which found 94 per cent of respondents supported the proposal. The city's councillors have raised concerns over the impact the development could have on existing retail centres at Warrawong, Shellharbour and Wollongong, and the loss of industrial land if the zoning is amended.

But Mr Bartlett yesterday said the development would not destabilise existing shopping hubs or replace the city centre retail experience.

Mr Bartlett also took aim at the tone of the staff report to councillors.

He said council officers "are not looking at the factual data" that accompanied the rezoning application and were ignoring the fall of manufacturing in both the Illawarra and across the nation.

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