Group to inspect lower Civic Hall in a bid to stage events

A COMMUNITY group is proposing to inspect the lower Civic Hall to see if it could be fixed up by volunteers to host a 12-month calender of events.

The Save Civic Hall committee called for access to the lower hall at last week’s City of Ballarat council meeting to see what repairs and maintenance could be provided by local tradespeople willing to volunteer their time.

Council chief executive Anthony Schinck said it could be arranged.

Save Civic Hall committee spokesperson Rod Broadbent said offers off free labour and some materials had already been made by qualified local tradespeople, while Save Civic Hall was working on a 12-month calendar of potential events that could be held in the hall. 

He said the group hoped to inspect the hall early in the new year.

“We’re flying in the dark until we have a look,” he said.

“We look forward to working with council ... with the view to improving it to an acceptable occupational, health and safety level and to be able to use it to hold meetings and run fundraising and other community events.”

Even if a planning application to demolish the hall is approved by the council, an appeal in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal is likely to delay the project for another 12 months.

Mr Broadbent said having the building unoccupied for so long had allowed vandalism and deterioration to go unchecked. 

Councillor Belinda Coates has also requested a report to the council’s next assembly meeting on allowing community access for the hall.

Cr Coates said the community had made a gesture of goodwill.

“It’s being realistic ... in the meantime while the planning permit for demolition goes through the process,” she said.

While the foyer, main hall and upper level to the balcony were opened to the public for escorted groups to view in 2002, the lower hall and stage area were deemed unsafe for inspection.

Cr Coates said she had seen photographs of the lower hall which appeared to be in a poorer state than the main hall.

“It’s about having access to the hall to inspect it,” she said.

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