THE Committee for Ballarat is calling for the Civic Hall to be knocked down to make way for a large-scale commercial development that could bring hundreds of jobs to the central business district.
Members of the leadership and advocacy body have expressed overwhelming support for demolition through a survey of their preferred options for the site.
Members also believe a mix of public and commercial activity should be considered for the site.
Ballarat City Council is considering a range of options from refurbishment to knocking the hall down, and will commit to a decision next month.
Committee for Ballarat chairwoman Judy Verlin said the council had a unique opportunity to develop the Civic Hall site in a unique way that portrayed Ballarat as a vibrant, progressive and exciting regional city.
With Ballarat’s population predicted to increase to 160,000 in 40 years, Ms Verlin said it was “critically important” to look at the best-case scenarios now.
“The feedback from our members is talking about job creation and economic growth,” she said.
“You can’t please all people all the time. It’s about making the best decision for the city in the long term.
“We’re asking for a big picture project.”
Ms Verlin said 50 per cent of the Committee for Ballarat’s membership responded to the survey, with 98 per cent supporting demolition and re-energising the site with a mixture of elements as
their preferred option.
She said a large employer would come if Ballarat created the space.
“That’s the way you revitalise an activity centre – hundreds of jobs slap bang in the centre of town,” she said.
“If the demolition of the current site is required to deliver the outcomes, then it should happen.
“That’s clearly the recommendation that’s coming back from our members.”
Ms Verlin said the precinct had to be considered in the context of the council’s ‘Making Ballarat Central’ strategy and alongside its other key development opportunities at the Eureka and railway
Committee for Ballarat chief executive officer John Kilgour said it was about the council having strength of leadership to deliver a decision.
“It should be reflective of a progressive and innovative city,” he said.
The Committee for Ballarat recommends the site incorporates an “iconic building”, and the current Civic Hall is demolished to make way for a more contemporary structure.