CITY of Ballarat chief executive officer Anthony Schinck says demand for office space in Ballarat’s central business district will increase into the future as the population grows.
Responding to criticism over the council’s vision for the Civic Hall site, Mr Schinck said the area proposed for future commercial development was tied to Ballarat’s needs as it continued to grow.
Doubts have been raised about the necessity for another development site in the CBD, with existing plans for a six-storey building in Mair Street remaining on hold.
But Mr Schinck said demand for office space would “certainly” occur in future years.
“The economic development data and the population data and even looking at Plan Melbourne, which is looking at pushing development and population out into the regions, all points to that,” Mr Schinck said.
“I know that there’s been an argument put to council that there currently are proposals for buildings.
“There may not be demand now, which is why you’re not seeing those buildings occur, but there certainly will be demand for office space into the future and that’s what the council is trying to create those opportunities for with only a small part of the Civic Hall site.”
The council’s vision for the site would see a parcel of land on the south western corner designated as a development site.
Mr Schinck said the majority was going to public domain space and community facilities with an expanded library, youth and community spaces and an expanded public carpark.
The 57-year-old hall would be demolished to make way for the vision.
The council has engaged an external planning organisation and is currently preparing a planning application to test the merits of the hall’s demolition.
Mr Schinck said it was no different to any other planning application.
“There’s a suite of planning policies ... that are effectively used as an assessment tool for any application that comes in,” he said.
“We look at all those relevant policies, assess that application via that.”
The council expects to receive the application in the next four to six weeks so the public exhibition process would coincide with Christmas.
Mr Schinck said the council would be offering extra time for people to view the application as a result.
“I would expect up to two months for input into that, particularly if Christmas gets into the way – which would put, if you add the mediation onto that, a report back to council by about May.”