ONE of Warrnambool City Council’s most controversial issues, the failed Allansford industrial land project, is nearing its final phase with a long-awaited decision to sell the land by public tender.
Two paddocks on Carrolls Road in Allansford once earmarked as suitable sites for a joint venture between the city and Moyne Shire councils are expected to be offered for sale early next month. Tenders close on July 20.
Sale proceeds will help reimburse the councils for the purchase, expert reports and legal expenses spanning almost a decade.
Thousands of dollars in legal expenses have been expended in sorting out the messy process which was thrust into the spotlight after two city councillors were involved in leaking details from a confidential city council.
High-level investigations and inquiries followed, resulting in disciplinary action against one of the councillors. It was the first time a council confidentiality issue had been taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Both councillors involved claimed there had been improper conduct by the city, but subsequent inquiries cleared the council.
The saga started in 2001 when a report identified a shortage of suitably-zoned sites for industry. Sites on Carrolls Road were chosen because of their proximity to existing industry, rail and road freight routes.
However, a special geo-engineering examination found the ground unsuitable because of underground caverns, effectively sinking the project.
Moyne pulled out, followed by the city in July 2008, prompting city chief executive Bruce Anson to say years of planning had been wasted.
“Warrnambool, Moyne and this immediate area is critically short of industrial land and we simply can’t take another four or five years to go through all those processes again,” he said at the time. Attempts to sell via expression of interest drew only one applicant — the farmer who had sold the land. It triggered a dispute, with Moyne pushing to accept the offer and the city deciding one was not enough.
Later attempts to widen the sale process triggered the controversial taping and leaking of the 2010 city meeting.
Last year Moyne approved a site on the outskirts of Port Fairy for an industrial park and Warrnambool City opted for land on the city’s eastern outskirts.
The Allansford land will be sold offered as either two individual lots of 23.9 hectares and 21ha or as a whole.
Moyne Shire Council assets manager Ian Harper said it was prime grazing land in farming zone with a bore on each paddock.
He said a dwelling could be built on each of the individual lots.
Interested buyers should register as a tenderer and obtain a tender package.
Mr Harper can be contacted on 5558 7806 or 0427 941 198.