AFTER years of being bogged down in bureaucratic red tape, Warrnambool district drag racing enthusiasts have been given the green light to achieve their ambition of securing a permanent base.
The state government has amended complex planning guidelines to make it easier for the club and Moyne Shire Council to turn part of the former Koroit racecourse into a motor racing venue.
Warrnambool and District Drag Racing Association members are expected to meet shire officers again soon and lodge a planning application which will be subject to the normal public scrutiny process before being approved.
The breakthrough could mean the association’s forthcoming season will be the last car racing events at Mailors Flat airport which has been a temporary racing venue for at least the past decade.
Association president Tony Frost said the future looked promising after years of frustrating negotiations to secure an alternative venue.
“We’re hoping now to secure approval,” he said.
Moyne Shire physical services director Trev Greenberger said the former racecourse north of the town, which had previously been reserved by the state government for agricultural purposes, had recently been reclassified as public purpose land.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries had also recently handed over management of the area to Moyne Shire Council and last month Planning Minister Matthew Guy amended farming zone guidelines to allow leisure and recreational uses if permits were approved.
“A motor racing track is not specifically prohibited as was the case with the old zone,” Mr Greenberger said.
“Drag club representatives will now discuss a potential planning permit application with Moyne Shire Council planning staff.”
Mr Greenberger said should the association decide to lodge an application negotiations would start with Warrnambool Model Aero Club, which also uses the old racecourse, and the grazing licence holder. Other public notices will also be lodged to notify neighbours and other relevant parties.
“In the meantime negotiations are occurring to extend the grazing licence for 12 months,” Mr Greenberger said.
“Council officers from Moyne and Warrnambool will work with the association regarding potential funding for the facility if a planning permit is granted.
“The recent government changes allow these type of uses in farming zones, but there still needs to be the normal application and consultation process.”
Moyne mayor Cr Jim Doukas said both councils were keen to help the association apply for grants to add to the group’s own capital.