Demolition permit lodged to take down the Civic Hall

A PLANNING permit application to demolish the Civic Hall has been lodged with Ballarat City Council’s statutory planning department.

The application was prepared and lodged yesterday by Harwood Andrews Lawyers on the council’s behalf.

It will go to the council for a decision in late May or early June.

Five documents are now available for public viewing on the council’s website, ballarat.vic.gov.au.

They include a planning permit application, an application cover letter, a December 2013 heritage impact statement, a town planning report and a survey plan.

In the application letter, Greg Tobin of Harwood Andrews raised several issues, including the Civic Hall’s heritage significance, whether it is appropriate for demolition to occur without replacement and whether the building is structurally sound.

The application states the Civic Hall, “notwithstanding its prominent location and considerable built form”, makes only a relatively minor contribution to the precinct’s heritage significance.

It also says “significant expenditure” would be needed to restore the building to meet current regulatory requirements and operational needs.

It states there are several potential site options, with many requiring some form of private-public partnership, but it would be too expensive to incorporate the building into any redevelopment proposal. The issue of potential contamination is also raised by “virtue of its past use”.

“Clearly the nature and extent of contamination may inform the nature of any replacement proposal, and constitutes a basis upon which demolition permission should be granted in advance of any proposal for a replacement building,” the application letter reads.

The standard two-week planning permit consultation period has been extended from the usual two weeks to six weeks.

A media statement says the council has not yet made any decision about the hall’s demolition and would not make any comment during the planning permit application process.

The statement reads: “This will enable council’s planning officers to objectively and independently assess the application without undue influence.”

Submissions will now be taken on the application, with submitters notified at all subsequent stages.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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