Timber yard up in the air

By Jessica Anstice

The future of a Pakenham business isn’t looking bright after council denied its planning permit and deemed the materials sold as ‘prohibited’ for the area the site is located.

Sustainable Flooring, located on the corner of Station Street and Slattery Place in Pakenham, applied for a planning permit about two months ago after they were informed it was required by council.

Business owners Chris Ellis and Jessica McKenzie are stuck on what to do next as the business has been running without a worry for 18 months now.

“The permit was refused on the basis that what we do, which is sell recycled building materials and timber, comes under ‘materials recycling’ and is a different zoning,” Mr Ellis said.

“The building that’s on our site has probably been there for 50 plus years but it’s sat here for 10 years abandoned and we’ve occupied it.

“We’ve cleaned it up, re-fenced it and painted it. Before we were here kids were getting in and vandalising it.”

According to the business owners, the landlord is “happy for us to stay here” for the next three to five years.

“He’s (the landlord) is going to eventually develop it and so we realise it’s not going to be a long-term thing but it’s just a stepping stone for us,” Mr Ellis added.

“We’re not asking for a lot. We just want to stay working here and for us to move into a new factory – we just can’t afford it at the moment. We’re running a recycled business.”

The business specialises in recycled building materials, specifically flooring.

“We feel like we’re doing something good for the community rather than anything that’s negative. We just want to come to work and do our jobs,” Ms McKenzie said.

“Even the business next to us has bought materials from us – they’re more than happy for us to be here.

“All the neighbours across the road love that the lawns get mowed and it’s maintained and that the kids have stopped coming through. Everyone that we speak to around the area is happy.”

Mr Ellis added that a number of council workers often drop by their business to pick up free bags of fire wood.

Originally, Mr Ellis and Ms McKenzie were unaware they needed a permit due to the existing use of the site.

“It used to be a farm supply yard business and we were initially told by the council that we had ‘existing land use rights’ so we didn’t need a permit,” Mr Ellis said.

“Now we’ve either got to accept what they’re (council) are saying and move out – which we can’t afford to do or we’ve got to fight them, which again costs money.

“Even putting aside the affordability aspect – we like the spot where we are and a lot of customers know where we are now and we’ve built a bit of a following at this address.”

Your first stop before buying a home. View the whole picture.