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Council welcomes decision to refuse controversial retail proposal at airport

13 August 2013

Update: Media release 13 August 2013

Kingston Council has welcomed the decision of the Hon. Anthony Albanese, Deputy Prime Minister and Commonwealth Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, to refuse a controversial proposal for more retail at Moorabbin Airport.

Council has been advocating on behalf of the community for an independent expert panel to consider the opinions of all stakeholders and assess whether a significant retail development at the airport should go ahead.

Traders and small business owners were concerned that local shopping precincts, particularly the already struggling Dingley Village, might be undermined by the proposal to develop large retail outlets on 4.8 hectares of airport land at the corner of Centre Dandenong Road and Boundary Road. The proposal had a floor area of 14,500m2 (about the size of more than 30 netball courts).

Council’s independent economic advice supported the traders’ concerns, showing that Dingley Village could lose up to half of its available customer catchment if the development went ahead.

Kingston Mayor Cr Ron Brownlees OAM welcomed the Minister’s decision and said it was a win for the business community.

“This news will provide confidence to traders about renewed investment in Dingley Village and we hope it will encourage the long-awaited redevelopment of the shopping area,” Cr Brownlees said.

“In refusing this retail proposal, the Minister noted issues similar to those raised by Council in its submission, namely the lack of an independent assessment process to ensure all views were heard. The Minister also pointed out that the proposal did not show how it was consistent with national, state and local planning requirements,” said Cr Brownlees.

The Minister was not satisfied that planning issues were adequately addressed including the “potential impact of the proposed development on other developments and broader plans for the region”, nor was he satisfied that the information provided demonstrated that due regard was given to feedback from the community made during the consultation period.

Cr Brownlees said while the decision could be appealed under the Airports Act 1996, Council would welcome the opportunity to work constructively with the applicant to explore a more appropriate development proposal which would support local planning policy.

“Council would also be pleased to participate in a panel process,” said Cr Brownlees. “We encourage investment in Kingston and want to ensure that any development is appropriate for the area. Council has a good working relationship with Moorabbin Airport and we want to continue working constructively with them on any future development.”

Cr Brownlees said the Minister also acknowledged the primary aviation use of the airport “and Council supports the continuation of its role as an operational airport”.

Council has proactively changed its planning scheme to support retail investment across Kingston in strategic locations that provide maximum community benefit, and the current proposal conflicted with this planning.

A fundamental planning principle is that the kind of retail development outlined in the proposal is surrounded by a residential area to support it. This proposal is surrounded solely by industrial and green wedge areas with no clear residential catchment.

“Council has a proud history of facilitating retail development in our City. Retail is the second largest employment industry in Kingston and the percentage of local retail jobs is above the metropolitan Melbourne average,” Cr Brownlees said.

Cr Brownlees said while we cannot control all the issues that affect Kingston, Council takes an active role in supporting and representing the concerns of our community.

For more information about the retail proposal and Council’s advocacy work, please visit

- ENDS –

Media contact: Kirsten Leiminger, City of Kingston, on (03) 9581 4749, 0419 338 904 or

Background information

Council supporting big and small business in Kingston

Council has a proud history of supporting our business community and facilitating growth for businesses both big and small.

Kingston Council has completed a significant number of Activity Centre Structure Plans and has undertaken more retail planning scheme amendments (including selling Council land to facilitate supermarket developments) than any other metropolitan municipality.

Council has provided a significant number of opportunities for new supermarkets and over the past two decades has helped facilitate four homemaker centres, the Westfield expansion at Southland, eight large format hardware stores, five Aldis, two Coles and five Woolworths into or on the edge of Kingston.

During the past two decades, Kingston Council has facilitated in excess of 300,000m2 (46 full sized soccer pitches) of retail related activity which is unprecedented for middle Melbourne.

Council is also currently holding a series of information sessions about how the new Commercial 2 Zone may potentially affect small businesses in Kingston. Details:



The concerns Council had expressed:

The independence of the process

  • The party who leases the airport from the Federal Government, and will financially gain from the proposed retail development, is also responsible for reviewing submissions made for and/or against the proposal, and providing advice to the Commonwealth Minister.
  • A report(1) by the Federal Government reinforces the need for independent experts to assist the Commonwealth Minister in considering such proposals.

The proposal is inconsistent with National, State and Local planning schemes

  • The airport is located outside the Urban Growth Boundary(2). This means the airport is outside the boundary of where “built up” development is allowed. The airport is part of the south east Green Wedge. A development like this would not be allowed anywhere else in the Green Wedge.
  • The airport is not easily accessible by public transport, so the proposal would encourage more people to use cars and actively undermine national sustainability and liveability priorities(3).
  • State planning policy explicitly discourages development away from shopping precincts. The new planning zones developed by the State Government would not allow supermarkets of the size proposed outside the Urban Growth Boundary(4).
  • State planning policy considers Moorabbin Airport to be a ‘general aviation airport’ and makes it clear that aviation is the primary purpose in which this land should be used. This is unlike other airports, such as Essendon, where a greater range of uses (e.g. retail) is encouraged.
  • Under Council’s local planning policies, the airport is too far from housing to be an appropriate location for a retail development of the size proposed. The airport is surrounded largely by industrial areas and the Green Wedge. Council’s submission highlights that it cannot find a comparable location anywhere in metropolitan Melbourne where something like this has been allowed to happen before.
  • During the past 20 years, development across Kingston’s shopping precincts has been carefully planned and facilitated to recognise our local circumstances, including the small local trade catchments created by natural boundaries such as Port Phillip Bay and the south east Green Wedge. This proposal directly undermines that careful planning.
  • As the airport is not very close to residential areas, there are not enough people close by to justify setting up a shopping centre of this size(5). This means existing shopping areas, such as Dingley Village, could lose up to half of its available catchment (potential customers)(6). That impact could also be felt by small businesses in other areas, such as Aspendale Gardens, Cheltenham, Mentone, Thrift Park, Parkdale and Mordialloc.


(1) The Federal Government’s 2009 Aviation White Paper

(2) For more information on the Urban Growth Boundary, please visit

(3) ‘Our Cities our Future’, National Urban Planning Policy

(4) For more information on the new planning zones, please visit

(5) This is according to the State Government’s criteria for setting up shopping centres in Growth Areas of Melbourne. A fundamental planning principal is that retail development like this proposal should be surrounded by a residential area to support it. This proposal is surrounded largely by industrial and Green Wedge areas with no clear residential catchment.

(6) This is according to Council’s independent economic advice 

Our previous Media release - 26 February 2013 - Kingston City Council 

Kingston City Council has urged the Hon. Anthony Albanese, Commonwealth Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, to appoint an independent expert assessment panel amidst fears that concerns of local traders and residents will be overlooked in the assessment of the controversial proposal for more retail at Moorabbin Airport.

In its submission, endorsed unanimously on Monday 25 February, Council questioned the independence of the current assessment process in which the party who leases the airport and will gain financially from the proposal, is also responsible for reviewing submissions received in relation to the proposal.

“This is a highly controversial proposal, local traders and residents need to know they have a real voice and that their issues are considered as part of a fair and open process,” said the Mayor.

The submission points to the Federal Government’s own Aviation White Paper which explicitly identifies the importance of an independent process to ensure that decisions made on significant proposals under the Airports Act provide natural justice to all stakeholders in similar way to other planning jurisdictions across the country.

Council’s submission echoes concerns of many local traders and residents who fear that the new retail development will undermine local shopping precincts, particularly the already struggling Dingley Village, but also the recently redeveloped Thrift Park complex and Aspendale Gardens.

“Our independent economic advice shows that Dingley Village could lose up to half its available catchment,” said the Mayor, “an unprecedented level of impact for the local traders who have fought hard to keep the shops alive in uncertain economic times.”

Mayor Brownlees said that local shopping precincts are the hubs of local suburbs, supporting local business and in the case of Dingley Village, the centre of community life with the school and community facilities purposefully planned next to the shopping centre.

“The impact on the strong community feel of Dingley Village could be devastating if this proposal proceeds,” he said, “that’s why we are seeking an independent assessment panel to ensure the opinions of all stakeholders are heard.”

Council’s submission highlights several instances where the proposal fails to comply with national, state and local planning schemes, and falls short of requirements of the Aviation Act.

“The proposal does not comply with Local or State planning legislation, nor does the application sufficiently justify why this is the case,” said the Mayor.

The Mayor said that Council had proactively changed its planning scheme to support retail investment across Kingston in strategic locations that provide maximum community benefit, and this proposal conflicted with this planning.

“This proposal is at odds with our planning scheme and could undermine the investment decisions of business of all sizes who have been establishing stores in these strategic locations,” he said.  

A fundamental planning principal is that retail development like this proposal is surrounded by a residential area to support it. This proposal is surrounded solely by industrial and green wedge areas with no clear residential catchment.

“If approved it will be the first of its kind in metropolitan Melbourne, setting a precedent for local shopping precincts across the State,” he said.

Council’s submission calls for:
  • A revised application to be made that is compliant with the requirements of the very important changes made recently to the Commonwealth Airports Act;
  • An independent expert assessment panel established by the Commonwealth Minister to consider all the submissions and all stakeholdersequalchance to be heard; and
  • A comprehensive and objective assessment of the inconsistencies with the State and Local planning schemes.
Further to this Council resolved to formally request copies of all submissions received by the Moorabbin Airport Corporation in relation to the Preliminary Draft Major Development Plan and a copy of all material submitted to the Minister by the Airport operator  demonstrating how it has had due regard to the significant matters raised in submissions.

“Council is currently in the process of meeting with local Federal and State representatives to further advocate for an independent panel to ensure the views of all the community are considered,” said the Mayor.

Council strongly encourages residents and traders to consider the proposal and make their opinions known to local State and Federal Members of Parliament.  A full copy of the Council submission is available below.

City of Kingston Submission to Major Development Plan - Wesfarmers Group - Moorabbin Airport (657KB)
Moorabbin_Airport_MDP_Appendix_1a_Planning_Peer_Review_Feb_20_2013 (1MB)
Moorabbin_Airport_MDP_Appendix_1b__Economic_Impact_Assessment_20_Feb_2013 (3MB)
Moorabbin_Airport_MDP_Appendix_2_Correspondence_from_Essential__Economics__Feb_20_2013 (182KB)
Moorabbin_Airport_MDP_Appendix_3_Growth_Corridor_Work_by_Essential_Economics_Feb_20_2013 (2MB)
Moorabbin_Airport_MDP_Appendix_4_Figures_4.2_and_4.3_Feb_20_2013 (2MB)
City of Kingston Letter to The Hon Anthony Albanese MP Re Moorabbin Airport Preliminary Draft Major Development Plan (Wesfarmers Group) (654KB)

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