By Bridie Byrne
WYNDHAM residents have welcomed the decision to fast track a Werribee Plaza expansion that would create more than 4000 jobs and add a second level to the complex.
The $250 million development will begin in 2010 after the Federal Government decided to bring forward five projects to boost the economy last Wednesday.
The construction phase alone could provide 2000 jobs and result in 2400 ongoing jobs.
Government spokesman Chris Owner said there would be a new retail floor area, Myer department store, specialty shops, food and leisure facilities, extra parking and a relocated council library and tavern.
He said discussions with Myer were well advanced on the store location and floor plans.
June Thompson, who lives opposite the plaza, said it would be a great addition to the city.
“Werribee is growing quickly and more shops would be wonderful,” she said.
The 84-year-old walks to the centre regularly and was glad more parking could become available.
“Parking on busy days is a big thing. It’s difficult to find parks,” she said.
Ms Thompson said the council needed to have a large role in the development process.
“Council should have a say with what is going to happen and whether it will be too big because, after all, it is in Werribee,” she said.
Mayor Shane Bourke said the council had not considered the project.
“A development plan for the project has not been submitted to council,” he said.
“Pacific Shopping Centres has had preliminary discussions with council to highlight its intentions for the site."
Cr Bourke said the council would act as a key stakeholder in the planning process but the State Government would be the responsible authority.
“This is something that would have occurred regardless of the move to fast-track the project, as the proposed development is outside the current floor plan limit of council’s structure plan for the site,” he said.
Pacific Shopping Centres consultant Bernard McNamara said the planning process would occupy most of 2009 with construction likely to start in mid 2010.
The Werribee Plaza expansion will be referred to a priority development panel.
Planning Minister Justin Madden said he wanted to facilitate the development while continuing to ensure transparency and community consultation.
The projects will help the Government deliver on its Melbourne 2030 and Melbourne@5 million planning strategies.
A second expansion of the plaza could take place after 2016.
By Bridie Byrne