THERE has been no secret handshake with the state government to sell off the Civic Hall site to developers, according to Ballarat City Council’s top officer.
Chief executive officer Anthony Schinck said the state government had not sold the Civic Hall land or even indicated a desire to sell or retain it.
He said the council’s discussions with the Crown would not begin until a planning application for the hall’s demolition was dealt with.
“There is no commitment, or there is no view known from the state government in terms of their desire to sell or retain the land at this point in time,” he said.
“We’re not even close to having those discussions with state government.”
But there would be nothing stopping the state government from the selling the land.
Mr Schinck said the whole site was owned by the state government and the Crown had the opportunity to retain, dispose or use it however it saw fit.
“We would be engaged with government about those decisions in terms of what council’s preference is ... drawing back to the plans that council have determined for the CBD and the site,” Mr Schinck said.
“If you’re talking about just the area proposed for future commercial development, there are a number of options that could be applied to how that land could be made available to commercial development.
“That might be through selling those parcels of land, it might be through transferring ownership of land to council or it might be through leasing the land.”
The council is proposing to demolish the hall without a development plan associated with it.
But the councillor vision for the site includes a mix of commercial, community and youth spaces and car parking.
Mr Schinck said the proposed development site on the south western corner of the block remained public land until appropriate development interest emerged.
It could be used as a public space or car park, he said.
“Council has choices. We could continue to utilise the space as flatbed car park or we could utilise it as additional public space,” he said.
“They are decisions that will be taken following getting over this first step and the first step is determining whether the hall stays or goes.”