FIRST lots in stage one of the agribusiness-focused Peel Business Park at Nambeelup were released for sale by LandCorp last month to strong local and international interest.
The 12 lots range in size from 2437 square metres to more than two hectares and are towards the southern end of the 120-hectare stage one precinct, west of Gull Road between Lakes and Redhead Roads.
CBRE has been appointed selling agent and LandCorp’s stage one is expected to form the core of a value-adding food processing, packaging and ancillary services centre for WA’s South West that is ultimately proposed to cover about 1000ha and butt up to the 42,000ha earmarked as the Peel Food Zone.
Release of the first lots – announced at a LandCorp development opportunities showcase in Subiaco on Tuesday evening two week’s ago – was culmination of more than 10 years of planning by LandCorp, Peel Regional Development Commission and the Murray Shire.
It also marked the establishment of the Industrial Lands Authority by the State government.
The Peel regional scheme was amended in August last year and the Murray Shire planning scheme amended in April to rezone the land from rural to industrial.
A final planning hurdle was cleared on October 23 when the WA Planning Commission’s statutory planning committee approved in principle an advertised structure plan for the first stage of the business park.
LandCorp hopes to let tenders this month for earthworks and services provision to begin early next year, the first step of turning vacant paddocks – a strategic land holding owned by the State since the 1990s – into between 80 and 110 construction-ready industrial sites ranging up to 20ha.
It also hopes to conclude negotiations early in the new year with Enwave Energy, Sunrise Energy and Synergy on design and provision of a landmark renewable energy microgrid – an autonomous electricity grid which will operate in parallel with the existing power grid – for stage one of the business park.
LandCorp hopes the renewable energy microgrid will lead the way for the rest of the proposed 20-year Peel Business Park development and set a standard for industrial developments across Australia.
The Victorian government has six similar microgrid trials underway, for example, also mainly in rural areas but LandCorp’s Nambeelup proposal is touted as the biggest industrial microgrid in Australia.
Lots will also be serviced with high-speed internet and reticulated natural gas from the Bunbury-Dampier pipeline which passes the site.
More than 22ha of stage one will be set aside as wetlands and open space and a complex drainage system has been designed to protect the ecology of the nearby Serpentine and Murray rivers and Peel-Harvey Estuary.
According to LandCorp, an earlier expressions of interest project confirmed demand for the lots, with nine agri-businesses or general industrial companies wanting to relocate or start new businesses at the Peel Business Park.
LandCorp officers at the development opportunities showcase recently said they had been in talks earlier that day with a “significant international agribusiness interest”.
They confirmed interest from Singapore and elsewhere overseas in the business park.
They also confirmed discussions with universities and the CY O’Connor Centre for Innovation in Agriculture at North Dandalup and a likelihood an agriculture research, tertiary education or training campus may be part of the mix in the business park.
Local Wagyu beef producers have also been talking to LandCorp about the potential for downstream processing facilities to be included.
Privately-owned adjacent land zoned to be included in subsequent stages of the business park includes Nambeelup piggery, a co-located composting and soil improvement business and commercial boarding kennels.
That land abuts three sides of Murrayfield Airpark, which retains its special purpose land zoning and a former abattoir now used as a factory producing equipment for abattoirs and the food industry.
LandCorp chief operating officer Dean Mudford told the showcase audience that WA was starting to “see quite a lot of activity in industry at the moment” after a couple of “quiet years”.
“We’ve got a great opportunity for agribusiness in the Peel Business Park at the moment which is just north east of Mandurah and is part of the multi-million dollar Transform Peel project,” Mr Mudford said.
“Overall, the area is about 1000ha so it’s a long-term, major industry job provider for the Peel precinct,” he said - it is projected to create more than 300 construction jobs and stage one is estimated to provide 160 permanent positions once it is fully developed.
“It will bring business, industry, training, research, transport, logistics and ancillary light industry around an agribusiness theme,” Mr Mudford said.
“We’re producing some fully serviced lots there as the first stage and tonight is the first opportunity we have to release this land.
“Twelve lots form part of the first stage in what we hope will be a 20-year roll out of industrial land in the Peel precinct.
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“It’s an innovation precinct as well, along with the agribusiness theme it’s also going to include in the first stage a proposed renewable energy microgrid to service that particular precinct and provide efficient power supply,” he said.
Regional Development, Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan and Lands Minister Rita Saffioti were also enthusiastic about the Peel Business Park project.
“The Peel region is a giant step closer to becoming a major agri-business and innovation hub in WA,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“The Peel Business Park will be an incubator for new and emerging industries across a broad range of sectors including agriculture, research and development and technology enterprises, as well as general and light industrial and commercial business.”
Ms Saffioti said unlocking industrial land close to key road and rail infrastructure was integral to the State government’s plan for more jobs and getting the WA economy back on track.
“The Peel region will play a major part in that plan due to its population growth and strategic proximity to the South West region and the ports of Fremantle, Kwinana and Bunbury,” Ms Saffioti said.
As previously reported, in 2016 the State government committed $49.3m in Royalties for Regions funding to the first stage of Peel Development Commission’s Transform Peel program, with $45.2m of that funding allocated to services provision for the Peel Business Park.
A 35-year program projected to boost the region’s economic output by $16.2 billion a year by 2050 Transform Peel comprises three strategic components of which Peel Business Park is one.
The others are Peel Food Zone and the Peel Integrated Water initiative.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has been assessing soil profiles throughout the zone and working on a ‘map’ of what crops and food production methods are best suited to which particular areas of the food zone.
WaterCorp has been working on water usage and waste water capture projects aimed at limiting nutrient inflow to the Peel-Harvey Estuary with projected more intensive agricultural land uses.