CFA site rezoned Change clears way for sale

March 24, 2017

SES volunteers: John Stava and Carrie Hawke.

A path to a new lease on life for Cobram’s old Country Fire Authority station on William St has been paved, after Moira Shire Council voted to rezone the land as a commercial site.

A number of councillors said they were disappointed there hadn’t been any interest in the site from local or government groups, including the SES.

The CFA, which owns the freehold land, proposes to sell it, but cannot while it is zoned for public use, council documents say.

‘‘(Rezoning to commercial one) will also assist in consolidating the town centre and provide realistic opportunities for the existing building and improvements to be used for a worthwhile planning purpose,’’ the documents say.

Councillors voted unanimously at the February meeting to seek authorisation from the Victorian planning minister to make the appropriate changes.

Cr Ed Cox said this was a formal process to seek the minister’s approval to change the site’s specifications, and then go from there.

‘‘This site has obviously become vacant after the relocation of the new fire station within Cobram and it’s all going extremely well,’’ Cr Cox said.

‘‘This site is now surplus to CFA requirements and without going into too much detail, I’d sort of hoped a community group might show a bit of interest, or more than interest, in the site there to use as a facility.

‘‘At this stage, as a council, I don’t think we’ve had any official approach to do anything with the site.’’

Cr Kevin Bourke said with the surrounding land zoned as commercial one, it made sense to zone the former fire station block similarly.

‘‘It’s only common sense as Cr Cox alluded, I did feel there might have been some interest shown,’’ Cr Bourke said.

‘‘As there hasn’t been the interest, I think it’s only common sense that we rezone this similar to the surrounding properties.’’

Cr Peter Mansfield said the site might be ideal for the SES, which has been looking for an appropriate home base in Cobram for a number of years.

‘‘I believe this particular building would be an ideal site for the local State Emergency Services group, and it’s a bit disappointing they haven’t shown interest in this particular building,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s next door to the police station, it would be an ideal site for the local SES branch until such time as they feel they need a different building or a different spot. But so be it, and I’ll support the motion.’’

The Courier inquired earlier last year whether the SES would consider the site, but received no response from Melbourne headquarters.

It’s understood that an SES unit would face similar issues to the CFA when it was housed there, including with traffic along William St.

A CFA spokesperson told the Courier there had been no official expression of interest in the site from any government agencies before a decision was made to put the building up for sale.

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