Winton Raceway's Future is Secure!
Winton Motor Raceway’s future as Benalla’s primary tourist attraction and regional Victoria’s most important motorsport facility has finally been secured after months of conflict with Benalla Rural City Council, along with local objectors.
Much-needed infrastructure developments at the circuit can now go ahead, thanks to the Victorian State Government planning department amending the Benalla planning scheme.
According to the Department of Planning and Community Development, the amendment will “facilitate tourism development which contributes to the employment and long-term economic, social and cultural benefits of developing region as a competitive domestic and international tourist destination.”
Winton Raceway CEO Mick Ronke has welcomed the amendment, explaining that it is a leap forward for not just motorsport participants and enthusiasts, but also the entire community.
“Our ability to carry out development works at the circuit has been completely blocked since September last year, due to the lack of co-operation from the Benalla Rural City Council who listened to the group of serial Winton dissidents.
“Our frustrations with the delays in the development process led to the Benalla Auto Club preparing an amendment for the Victorian Planning Minister, and fortunately this amendment has been approved and gazetted today.
“The planning scheme could have been resolved much more quickly and simply, but the Benalla Rural City Council’s attitude has cost us almost 12 months, and unnecessarily cost Benalla ratepayers money.”
The Winton objectors mischievously used a previously discarded amendment, the “C4 amendment”, to distract the council. This amendment had previously been deemed to be unacceptable by the council and has now been completely removed from the planning scheme.
Another contentious issue has been the conducting of “drag racing” at the facility. The straight-line competition events currently run at Winton involve street vehicles. This type of event has been run at Winton since 1961 and does not breach any planning regulations. There are no plans to conduct events for purpose-built drag cars or to construct a dedicated drag strip with its own enclosure.
According to Mr Ronke, the council’s attempts to change the planning scheme were made without any consultation with the raceway.
“The problems we have battled since last year have been caused by council attempting to change the planning scheme without consulting with us,” he said.
Fortunately, the planning debacle is now behind us," Mr Ronke said. "We look forward to getting on with the job of developing Winton Motor Raceway to its maximum potential, so the benefits can be enjoyed by the wider community.
“The Benalla Auto Club is committed to developing Winton as a major tourist attraction in regional Victoria, and this amendment also secures the right for small-medium businesses to make an agreement with the government, and see that agreement honoured,” Mr Ronke concluded.