Finally moving forward: Existing Warwick Saleyards to be redeveloped
25 February 2021
The future of the Warwick Saleyards has been the topic of extensive discussion and consultation with the community and industry representatives for many years, and this week the Southern Downs Regional Council voted at the Ordinary Meeting to regenerate the existing site with substantial upgrades to address sustainability and viability issues identified in the Master Plan and Business Case.
In making its decision, Council first and foremost considered whether necessary improvements to progress the facility to meet industry standards and maintain a competitive market position would involve a brownfield or greenfield development.
After healthy debate during the meeting, the vote favoured the existing 27-acre site given its existing connections to amenities, future rail access and costing concerns.
Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi said that the Warwick Saleyards played an integral part in the agricultural sector and Council’s deliberation had been extensive and involved.
“The livestock industry has changed and evolved since the saleyards started operating more than 55 years ago and there is no question that a development of sorts is needed to ensure the region has quality facilities which meet current animal welfare, best practice standards and industry trends,” Mayor Pennisi said.
“The future of the saleyards has been a significant and strategic decision and Council deliberated very seriously over the long term financial implication of committing to a spend it could not afford and ultimately opted to live within its means.”
Estimated figures from the Business Case costed a new development on the current brownfield site at nearly $14m and the greenfield option at $15m, whereas it is anticipated that a redevelopment may cost close to half.
“The decision has been too long in the making and now that we have settled on a decision, we can commission a detailed business plan on the redevelopment and enhancement of the existing facility and focus on securing future funding to support the project,” Mayor Pennisi said.
“Our staff have gone to extraordinary lengths to provide enough information to make a decision and we also thank the Warwick Saleyards Advisory Committee and all stakeholders including the public for their contribution to the discussion.
“We look forward to the future and to providing the best possible facility at an affordable price to ratepayers.”
CEO Dave Burges also added: “This is an ideal project to submit to the Australian Government’s ‘Building Better Regions Fund’ program and we can now focus on preparing the best application we can for a future round of the program.”
Council will proceed with developing a preliminary design of the facility with funds allocated in the 2020/21 budget and a working group will be formed to guide the prioritisation of specific design replacement and enhancement elements.