FRANKSTON Council has rejected a proposal that would have created more jobs at Carrum Downs.
The council voted 4–1 on Monday (14 October) to reject investigating rezoning land to expand Carrum Downs Industrial Estate, which will be full in about six months with the last 20 blocks now on sale. The mayor Cr Michael O’Reilly was the lone voice in support of council undertaking “further investigations into the rezoning of Carrum Downs land for employment use”.
Committee for Greater Frankston chief executive officer Ginevra Hosking says the decision is short-sighted. “This will force companies that want to expand to leave our city and take jobs with them,” she said. “Carrum Downs has become an irreplaceable hub for high-tech manufacturing and is now Frankston City’s most important jobs precinct with 8600 employees producing $3.65 billion in economic activity each year. It’s a third of Frankston’s economy and has more local jobs than Frankston’s CBD.”
Ms Hosking said the council had missed a golden opportunity to rezone land next to EastLink and create “land for livelihoods”. A special charge on rezoned land would have helped fund natural habitat corridors and conservation parks in the rest of the green wedge, which covers 35 per cent of the municipality.
She said Carrum Downs industrial precinct had boomed over the past decade – growing jobs 13 times faster than the regional average – due to unique conditions that included “access to freeways and major arterial roads, skills clustering, knowledge-based manufacturing, and access to recycled water”.
“This has enabled innovative, job-dense, high-tech industrial design and engineering export companies – such as Nutech Paint, Roma Foods/Orgran with its wheat-free alternative grain foods, Remedy Kombucha, soft sign industry leader AFI Branding, and international mattress firm Tempur – to cluster at Carrum Downs. They and many others have plans to expand. We want to keep these jobs at Carrum Downs.”
Just four councillors voted to reject the expansion investigation – Sandra Mayer, Kris Bolam, Glenn Aitken and Quinn McCormack. Cr O’Reilly voted for the study. Four councillors were absent – Colin Hampton, Lillian O’Connor, Brian Cunial and Steve Toms (suspended till January).
Ms Hosking said it was disappointing the four councillors had “disregarded the engine room of the city’s economy”.
“The mayor stood alone on Monday night, the only councillor present who understood how important it is to allow successful companies to grow and hire new people if we want to keep those businesses in our city.”
Frankston had suffered from three decades of councils lacking foresight and making poor planning decisions in the CBD, which had stunted business growth and driven jobs away, she said. “There has been a failure to plan for the CBD’s success and now we have another planning failure in the making.
“While the council openly acknowledged there was a lack of industrial land in the municipality, it became clear during the councillors’ debate that this decision to ‘constrain Carrum Downs’ was being made in the absence of any alternative employment land strategies,” she said.
“It is admirable of council to protect the green wedge. We fully support this principle. However, a more balanced view is required. One councillor said the government should build a new industrial estate elsewhere but what would be the cost to the environment? And what would be the cost of our residents having to commute out of the city?
“The rejected proposal, put forward by planning professionals, advocated for more in-depth investigation. This would have enabled the council to make a more informed decision.
“Frankston need jobs within the municipality – especially in the knowledge-based manufacturing sector – otherwise we are condemning people to commute to another city. We need councillors with the foresight to plan for the jobs of the future.”
Committee for Greater Frankston public submission to the draft Green wedge management plan.
14 Oct 2019
The Carrum Downs Industrial Estate is now regarded as one of Victoria’s most successful and prestigious technology precincts. With 8600 employees and $3.65 billion in economic activity, the precinct is more productive than Frankston’s CBD. Over the past decade, job growth in Carrum Downs has been 13 times faster than the regional average. And, against a background of few local jobs, Frankston’s workforce participation is now rising steadily. Today, 20% more Frankston residents have a job than in 2006.
I encourage everyone to read why Carrum Downs’s unique conditions:
- access to freeways and major arterial roads,
- class A- recycled water,
- skills and knowledge-based manufacturing
enables innovative, job-dense, high-tech industrial design and engineering export companies – such as Nutech Paint, Roma Foods-Orgran, Remedy Kombucha, and AFI Branding – to cluster here.
These innovative Carrum Downs businesses are looking to expand. But,as it currently stands, no more industrial land is available.
For these businesses to continue to grow, they will have to leave Carrum Downs and take those jobs with them.
(Don’t believe me, ask Jayco Page Bros)
It is worth making the obvious historical comparison between Carrum Downs’s economic successes and the degraded state of Frankston’s CBD.
In the late 60s to early 80s, Frankston’s CBD was the “home town” to a thriving community of high-profile retail organisations. Pratts-Safeway, Ritchies, Robinsons Bookshop; the list goes on. Even executives from Coles and Myer congregated here to ‘share in the latest ideas’.
Retailing is tougher today but these iconic national companies haven’t gone from the sector. They have just gone from Frankston.
Why? Because Frankston’s leaders, at the time, failed to plan for the needs of its most successful employment sector.
They didn’t realise how important these innovative businesses and jobs were to the life and vibrancy of Frankston’s CBD and to the prosperity of our local economy until… ….it was too late to save them.
And as the saying goes “a failure to plan is a plan to fail”.
It would be a “negligent repetition of history” for Councillors to reject the consultants advice and ignore the community feedback by removing from the proposed draft green wedge management plan recommendations for “further investigations into the rezoning of Carrum Downs land for employment use” when it is well known that no alternative industrial land is available in our municipality.
This time the decision to “adequately plan for the future viability of our town” rest with us.
It is job creation that has driven the recent prosperity and growth of Carrum Downs – and contributed to the wellbeing of our whole region. Frankston needs options to support the ongoing growth of our advanced manufacturing sector or … these companies will leave and … once again the jobs will disappear.
Let’s leave the next generation with a stronger Frankston economy – an internationally competitive industrial sector and local jobs they can be proud of.
For more information on the issue please read C4GF detailed written submission, June 2019