A LOCAL developer seeking planning approval believes the Rural City of Wangaratta’s “current political environment” has contributed to a delay that is costing him thousands of dollars.
Dean Rees said he had been waiting since October for approval of his development in the former Masonic Hall in Ovens Street, but had grown “so frustrated with the bureaucratic bull t going on”.
Mr Rees purchased the 100 year old building 18 months ago, and has been working on its $1 million redevelopment as a lifestyle store, alongside a cafe, with undercover parking at the rear.
With the building located in a business zone, Mr Rees believed planning approval would be “a no-brainer”.
But he said conditions imposed on the project, including parking configuration, no deliveries being allowed during business hours, and a requirement for trucks to be able to turn at the rear of the building, had been a source of frustration.
“I thought it would be approved in a couple of months, but I am already four to five months behind,” Mr Rees told the Wangaratta Chronicle.
“We were initially looking at opening on July 1, but it is looking like August 1, and it will probably be September 1 because of the constant delays.”
Mr Rees said the delays had caused problems with engaging tradesmen, and had cost him rent and consultants’ fees.
And he said the protracted planning process had made him think twice about a residential development he was planning in Cambridge Drive.
“It concerns me that council will muck around and put ridiculous conditions on it,” he said.
Mr Rees is also concerned that other developers could choose not to deal with Wangaratta if they faced the same situation.
“If this has affected me as a small-time developer, how is it affecting big developers?” he said.
“Is that why Wangaratta is not growing?”
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