RESIDENTIAL development on the former Fletcher Jones factory site has been suggested in a report looking at Warrnambool’s long-term housing needs.
Despite a heritage protection order over most of the rambling buildings and gardens which has thwarted previous dreams of transforming the iconic landmark, a draft strategy for Warrnambool City Council says opportunities for housing development should be considered.
The report, presented to last night’s council meeting, also lists the old Warrnambool woollen mill as an example of re-using a former industrial site.
It is being transformed into a trendy residential area with up to 130 houses and units.
“Large sites in established areas that are no longer needed for their original purpose may be suitable for residential development,” the report says. “Where the site has heritage value the new use should support ongoing interpretation and understanding of the heritage value, while also accommodating the new functions.”
The Fletcher Jones factory and gardens were established in 1948 by David Fletcher Jones and recognised by Heritage Victoria as having historical, social and aesthetic significance to the state.
It was purchased by the city council when the factory was winding down in the early 1990s, then sold in 2005 to a Geelong businessman who is trying to sell the 2.3 hectare site for about $2.7 million.
City council chief executive Bruce Anson told The Standard last night the old woollen mill site was a good example of how a “brownfield” area could be successfully transformed for housing.
The draft housing strategy prepared by the council’s planning department is open for public comment for the next six weeks.
It says the city’s population is predicted to grow at 1.4 per cent a year, reaching 43,000 by 2031.
More than 80 per cent of this expansion is predicted to be in greenfield growth areas, but the report says more should be done to boost numbers with in-fill housing in existing neighbourhoods by setting a growth target.
More affordable housing projects are also encouraged.
During the next two decades household sizes are expected to get smaller, but dwelling sizes are expected to increase, with three and four-bedroom houses the dominant type in main growth zones.
With new residential areas recently approved in Dennington, north Warrnambool and Hopkins Point the city is expected to have about 24 years of residential land supply.
The draft strategy recommends the existing urban settlement boundaries be adopted as the limit to stop sprawl.
It also says planning should encourage an average 12 dwellings per net developable hectare on greenfield subdivisions, rising to at least 15 closer to transport corridors and activity centres.
“With the population projected to keep expanding we would like to keep the city compact, with good transport links and provide certainty for the future in housing supply,” Mr Anson said.
“We don’t want it to become a dirty big spread of suburbia.”