MAKEOVER NOT TAKEOVER
At a Council meeting of April 27 2016, councilors voted to adopt the Civic Hall Masterplan, which includes the complete take over of the main hall by the library and the demolition of most of the Lower Hall. Thank you to those Councillors who voted against the recommendations and saw the folly in this plan. The Masterplan only became available for public viewing on the previous Friday before the Wednesday meeting and was only available on the Council website in the form of an agenda item. This was a long weekend so most of the community were unaware of the Masterplan.
Save Civic Hall had requested the Heritage Advisor’s Report over 12 months prior to this meeting through Freedom of Information, and this secret document was released on the same day as the Council Meeting. Secret …..because decisions were made without some councilors claiming they had no knowledge of this document.
The Council’s own Heritage Adviser Brian Benson, warned Council about proceeding with the demolition of any part of the structure claiming that the demolition application of 2014 was a complete RED HERRING and Council breached many of their Planning Scheme in regards to Heritage Overlays. He also went on to say that the Civic Hall’s significance had been overlooked and it does not matter if the significance is of Local or State level it can not be ignored. No engineer’s assessment was ever commissioned to prepare an Engineer’s Report on the overall condition of the building which according to the Heritage Adviser’s report is in good solid condition despite its neglect.
According to the report there were many anomalies quoting breaches of the Council’s own planning laws that must be considered and therefore Mr Benson would not support the demolition of any structure on the site. Save Civic Hall will not support the Masterplan and will certainly not support the demolition of any part of the structure as outlined in the heritage adviser’s report. Nor will it support the loss of the stage and its side rooms and dress circle. Costings for the demolition of most of the Lower Hall are not available to date.
A community asset of this significance should not be hijacked in favour of commercial development so therefore it is totally inappropriate to consider the part of full demolition of any part of the Civic Hall.
The only way forward is for mediation with the council and Save Civic Hall will be seeking further consultation to secure a more suitable outcome for the Civic Hall. Should the Council pursue the demolition of the Lower Hall we will be collecting further objections to the destruction of this integral part of the Civic Hall as commercial development can still be achieved without demolition.
THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE OPENING OF THE CIVIC HALL 20TH AUGUST 2016
Plans are underway for a free community event on the 20th August to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the opening of the Civic Hall in 1956. The opening coincided with the 1956 Olympic Games and rowing events took place on Lake Wendouree. This year of 2016 the Rio Olympic Games will also take place. Watch this space for all the details which will be finalised over the coming two months. Help us celebrate this amazing milestone in the history of the Ballarat Civic Hall. We Hope to see you there!!