VICTORIAN Planning Minister Matthew Guy has backed Places Victoria to deliver on the Junction Place redevelopment in Wodonga.
The minister said the 10-hectare site in central Wodonga remained a priority for the government and urged Wodonga Council to be “more friendly to investors” in difficult market conditions.
Mr Guy said the Places Victoria board had not been sacked, but had reached the end of its term with an interim board made up of senior government officials, Dean Yates and David Webster put in place.
Replacement board positions will be advertised later this year.
“In the last year they have done a very good job,” Mr Guy said.
“They are about to post a budget surplus and have got their house in order.
“They inherited a very difficult situation from Vic Urban.
“They had invested in projects that weren’t sustainable at all.”
Mr Guy said all developers were confronting a difficult market and Wodonga was no exception.
“It is not about Places Victoria’s competence,” he said.
“It is not the only site in and around the Border area that has had difficulty to this point in time getting a buyer or interest.
“If the planning controls are fairly liberal or fairly easy obviously it can spark a lot of interest.
“We’ve had some discussions with the council about becoming more friendly to investors, but we don’t want to compromise any of the original plans or designs.
“It is a balancing act.”
Junction Place has been carved up into five development precincts and all proposed developments are subject to council approval.
The nearby $65 million Mann shopping centre development recently had an amended planning permit ticked off by the council and the Huon Hill Hotel and Quest apartments have opened in the past 12 months.
“It won’t all change overnight, but it is starting to change,” he said.
“It is a big parcel of land in a regional city in a difficult market.
“It will happen.”
Places Victoria is negotiating with more than one party on the entertainment precinct and an announcement is expected soon on whether the Country Fire Authority establishes its district headquarters on the site.