Backing for reuse of Civic Hall

An architectural study exploring the Civic Hall’s adaptive reuse has never been looked at despite its cheap cost compared to demolition, a group of Ballarat identities say.

Former city arts and cultural manager Ron Egeberg, businessman Paul Ballinger and City of Ballarat councillor Samantha McIntosh claim the initiative should be considered before the vote on demolition goes to the chamber.

Mr Egeberg said Melbourne architect Peter Sandow contacted him in December and outlined his proposal to refurbish the hall.

He was astounded it had never been pursued by the council.

“There are bound to be many proposals there for the adaptive reuse of the hall,” Mr Egeberg said.

“This is one example. The functionality is there, it’s just using an architect to develop it.”

Mr Sandow said the hall needed a complete architectural study now, a cost of about $25,000, to really explore what could be done. 

He said it required a business attitude from the outset and staging was the key.

Cr McIntosh said she would not make up her mind on the application to demolish the hall until it went to the chamber.

But commonsense said there should be a strong consideration of the opportunities beforehand.

“This is one of a number of ideas that has been put to us over the last few years that maybe the community hasn’t had the opportunity to see, sadly,” Cr McIntosh said.

“So there’s not been that creative vision and creative involvement into the potential of this space.

“It’s a staged plan as well. It’s not that you have to spend $43 million on day dot – you can do something for eight million.”

Mr Ballinger also said the whole process should be investigated.

“It is a community-owned asset that is sitting on government land, not council land,” he said.