Councillor calls to suspend Civic Hall demolition process until after state election

A BALLARAT councillor is calling to suspend a demolition application for the Civic Hall until the result of the November state election is known. 

Yesterday councillor Amy Johnson said she would move a notice of motion at Wednesday’s council meeting to put the current planning application on hold. 

Cr Johnson said the move was in response to the state government’s pre-election promise last weekend to relocate the VicRoads headquarters to Ballarat if they won the election. 

Cr Johnson said mayor Joshua Morris had written to Leader of the Opposition Daniel Andrews yesterday to see whether a similar relocation of a government department, adjacent to the Civic Hall, could be promised by the other side of government. 

“We will be lobbying the opposition for their support for this option,” Cr Johnson said. 

“We hope to have bipartisan support of the VicRoads relocation.”

Cr Johnson said it would be “foolish” for the council to push ahead with the planning application and consequent demolition of the Civic Hall before the November election. 

“If the relocation (of a government department) does not go ahead ... all we would have done is lost time. Then we can pick up the planning application where we left off,” Cr Johnson said.

“It would be foolish for us to proceed with plans for the site, when there could be another type of use.”

Cr Johnson said she had been in discussions with other councillors about the suspension potentially being the best way forward. 

The notice of motion also called the development of a multimedia approach to keeping the community up to date with the Civic Hall planning application.

Cr Johnson said she could not comment on whether she thought council had effectively communicated news about the Civic Hall with the public. 

She said in the past the council had published information about progress of the Civic Hall development application on its website. 

“(The new information hub) would be interactive and provide any of the documents we have received ... the intention is to keep the community 100 per cent informed,” she said. 

Last week a state government spokesperson said there had been ongoing discussions between the government and the council in relation to the multi-storey VicRoads building, which would house 400 staff relocating from Melbourne.