BALLARAT City Council will this week determine whether an historic but storm-damaged church hall is worth saving.
The fate of Ballarat’s former St Columba’s Hall hangs in the balance, with the construction of the Western Link Road requiring its urgent relocation.
The hall, stored at council’s Ring Road depot since 2007, is in a poor state after several storm events have damaged the historic building.
Councillors will tomorrow consider whether to relocate the hall for renovation, or sell off or donate its materials to interested organisations or recyclers.
Under the option preferred by council officers, the hall would be relocated to the University of Ballarat’s Gillies Street campus.
Here, it could be stored until its renovation and reconstruction could be investigated further, at a cost to the council.
But the council could also decide to offload the hall, by advertising for interested parties to take over or remove it.
The hall came close to to being restored in 2010 when it was at the centre of a campaign to return it to the community, but the plans later collapsed when they were deemed financially unviable.
Built in 1890, the hall was originally situated at the former Redemptorist monastery at Wendouree.
It was later moved to St Columba’s Primary School at Ballarat North, where it stood for more than 80 years.
In 2005, the school sought to shift the hall from the school site to make way for redevelopment work.
In 2007, after no suitable relocation site could be found, the council accepted the building as a “gift’’ from the school.
The council called for expressions of interest in the hall, but two weeks after the building was moved it was badly damaged in a storm.
An expression of interest has now been received from the University of Ballarat to develop a proposed education and community engagement opportunity to reconstruct the hall, according to council officers.
But they are only initial discussions and at this stage there is little certainty about the project, the officers said.