In a very close decision, on Monday May 13th Wollongong Council decided to alter the L.E.P. to permit self storage in the I.N.3 Heavy Industry Zone.
An application by our company to broaden the zoning uses was submitted in 2012. The application has strong merit and will encourage investment in the Illawarra. It was also supported by the Council Staff, with a recommendation for approval.
In a puzzling political reaction there was spirited opposition. The apparent reason for this is a perception that self storage operators will flood into the Illawarra and soak up the heavy industry employment lands, and this will increase land prices.
The economic ignorance and practical contradictions would be humorous if they weren’t real.
Firstly, self storage will not inundate Wollongong as feared. And even if it did, occupancies would be too low to sustain viability and many would promptly close-down, the market will resolve the concern.
Secondly, self storage was previously permissible in the Heavy Industry Zoning and already occupies land in I.N.3 Heavy Industry Zoning in Wollongong.
Thirdly, liberating land use with freer, more flexible Zoning will encourage investment and employment. Central planning to steer particular political employment preferences will only stagnate the local economy.
Fourthly, other ‘light-industry’ uses are already permitted in the I.N.3 Zoning. Inclusion of self storage is hardly ground breaking or provocative.
Finally, Onesteel and Bluescope have been contracting operations in the Illawarra, there is an abundance of vacant heavy-industry land and this is likely to increase. Unfortunately, the industry is confronted with global excess steel production capacity, a high dollar, higher local wages and greater regulation. The Illawarra will need to transition to new industries and stop clinging to the past with firm regulatory views and protectionist practices.
Self storage provides a valuable and worthwhile service. If it didn’t, we would not invest millions of dollars in these centres.
In particular, self storage is an entrepreneurial incubator. The low risk, low cost and extremely flexible space provides the ideal space accommodation for emerging and budding businesses.
With no lease, no bond and no legals; self storage gives entrepreneurials a great start in their new enterprise.
Despite these strong attributes, some politicians adopt a centralist controlling view that the market does not work, and they know best.
Thankfully sanity prevailed….just!
Read the story from the Illawarra Mercury: Fears Storage Vote Will Cost Jobs
Author: Sam Kennard, Managing Director, Kennards Self Storage
The Kennards storage centre at 565 Woodville road is one of the first generation, dedicated storage centres built by the late Neville Kennards in the 1980s.