From empty paddocks to economic engine room

Carrum Downs Industrial Estate 4 aerials 2002-18.jpg

Carrum Downs Industrial Estate is now regarded by many experts as one of Victoria’s most successful and prestigious technology precincts. You see its modern factories when you drive south along Peninsula Link, the Tempur mattress factory one of the more prominent.

Carrum Downs has been jumping for many years, changing from paddocks to a bustling, world-leading industrial precinct. It is jobs that have driven the prosperity and growth of the suburb and contributed to the well-being of the whole region. The industrial estate is home to a wide range of businesses, including food and beverage manufacturing, packaging, industrial and residential construction products, recycling, vehicle manufacturing, professional services and more. This is the best place in the region to get a job, skilled or unskilled.

Famous names and brands abound. There’s Orgran, now an international brand of allergy-friendly foods made by Roma Foods that also sells pasta to Italy. Remedy Kombucha is a booming business started by a young couple and is cashing in on a growing demand for healthy drinks — in this case a fermented, slightly alcoholic tea. Sarah and Emmet Condon moved their young family from Red Hill to New York City last year to crack the US market. There’s Replas, a world leader in making goods from recycled plastic. Tempur also is world-famous. It sells mattresses made from NASA space technology and makes beds at its new factory.

The industrial estate had humble beginnings in 1987 after sections of rural land were rezoned for industry and the first business was set up in Aster Ave — Chocolate Grove, which continues to operate. The estate grew slowly at first, but the pace picked up in 2008 when the EastLink tollway opened. It connected Carrum Downs to central Melbourne and the eastern suburbs. Businesses jumped in at a rapid rate. Peninsula Link gave the 285ha precinct another boost in 2013.

In just over 30 years the estate has become full. The last allotments of a 40-block tranche in Colemans Rd are expected to sell by the end of the year. The first 10 blocks of this parcel of about 7.5ha have already been snapped up by businesses with adjacent or nearby premises. This was before selling agent Nichols Crowder — which is located in the estate — started its marketing campaign.

And this has become a concern for Frankston Council, estate businesses that want to expand and the others who would like to join them. Committee for Greater Frankston chief executive Ginevra Hosking said Carrum Downs had become an “irreplaceable enclave of innovative, job-dense, hi-tech manufacturing”, and that the urban growth boundary could be expanded north to allow the estate to grow. “This will mean new jobs in our region. Also, unless more land is released, we risk losing some of our major employers and with them hundreds of jobs.”

Ms Hosking said the council was partway through creating a green wedge management plan, aiming to balance commercial and environmental needs. “The council is investigating where new industrial land can be made available. If additional land was released for industrial purposes, landowners who benefited can fund environmental enhancements of green wedge land, including restitution of expended quarries and revegetation of wildlife corridors.

“We believe that Frankston’s green wedge spaces should be doing more — doing more for the environment, doing more for employment, and doing more as safe, accessible community parklands.”

Next issue: Cool businesses in Carrum Downs

MIKE HAST

Mike Hast is a freelance writer for the Committee for Greater Frankston, and a former editor of Peninsula newspapers.

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