Former Fletcher Jones site off the market

THE former Fletcher Jones site has been withdrawn from sale as the administrators responsible for the heritage-listed property continue their attempts to get it rezoned.

Wilson Real Estate director Mark Wilson confirmed the former Fletcher Jones factory and surrounding gardens “had been withdrawn from sale after Christmas”.

“But it will ultimately be for sale (again) once the owners progress through things with council about unencumbering the site via a zoning change,” Mr Wilson said.

He said the site was zoned industrial but it was felt the property had better prospects for a sale if it was rezoned as “mixed use”.

A mixed-use zoning would “provide for a range of residential, commercial, industrial and other uses which complement the mixed-use function of the locality”, according to the Victorian government’s planning scheme.

The site was originally owned by Mill Market proprietor Ian Ballis, but when his business went into administration the Fletcher Jones site  reverted back into the hands of mortagee Dd&D Securities Limited and the ANZ Bank-appointed receivers Sellers Muldoon Benton.

Mr Wilson said there had been “ongoing discussions” between Dd&D Securities and Warrnambool City Council about a zoning change.

Dd&D Securities director Ashley King confirmed that the zoning of the property was one of a range of issues that affected the property which would need to be addressed before it was placed back on the market.

“The property was withdrawn to enable the mortagee to consider that property going forward,” Mr King said.

He said the zoning of the property, heritage overlays and environmental issues were among the factors being discusses with council.

Heritage Council of Victoria spokeswoman Tanya Wolkenberg said the owner of the Fletcher Jones site had been written to recently. 

“It is now appropriate to reassess the condition of (the Fletcher Jones silver ball) and Heritage Victoria has recently written to the owner to request he undertake this work,” Ms Wolkenberg wrote in response to The Standard’s questions.

Mr King said he had not seen such correspondence and believed it would have been sent to Mr Ballis and the trustees of his estate.

Conceding that the issues surrounding the site were far from straightforward, Mr King said Dd&D Securities hoped to place the property on the market again as soon as possible.

“From a sales point of view it’s not tricky, but the site has it’s complexities,” Mr King said.

But Mr Ballis said it was unclear who now had responsibility for the site, adding he hadn’t received anything from the Heritage Council of Victoria.

“I’m pretty removed from the situation,” he said. 

“I haven’t been in charge of the site since July 2012 when all of my companies went into receivership.” 

He agreed the site was in something of a legal black hole.

Warrnambool City Council director of city growth Bill Millard said there had been no formal submissions to rezone the site. 

“We’ve consistently said we’re prepared to work with developers on a future use of the site and prepared to work with them on a development plan,” Mr Millard said.

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