Panel to hear submissions from former Ballarat Children's Home resident

FORMER Ballarat Children’s Home resident Deborah Findlay will be calling for the preservation of her childhood memories when she speaks at an independent planning panel hearing on the site’s development today.

The independent panel is considering submissions from developers, City of Ballarat planning staff and objectors before it will make a recommendation to the council on the future the Victoria Street buildings.

The former orphanage, which was sold to a developer in 2011, is earmarked for a residential subdivision with a medical centre and shopping complex.

However, the council is seeking independent advice on the proposal due to the high number public submissions.

Ms Findlay said former residents would attend hearings at Ballarat Town Hall today and tomorrow.

“It is of historical, cultural and social significance to a lot of people,” she said.

“We don’t have memories of going with mum or dad to the park ... all my memories of my childhood are on that site and it’s the only connection I have to my siblings.”

The council recently approved several buildings for demolition but rejected the developer’s bid to knock down the majority of structures.

The developer is appealing the decision in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), with a three-day hearing to be staged in Ballarat from Tuesday.

Ms Findlay said many former residents would be attending the appeal in support of the council’s ruling.

“That there are 13 buildings on that site and (the developer) is only looking to retain one, I think is pretty unreasonable,” she said.

Meanwhile, the land stills need to be rezoned for commercial, mixed and residential use for the subdivision to proceed.

Ms Findlay said she objected to the rezoning  because she believed significant buildings, such as the former school house, should be protected.

Under the developers’ plan, only the former toddlers’ block would be retained, along with mature elm trees, the Stawell Street wall, the front memorial garden, a shade structure, several magnolia trees and the memorial Ludbrook seat.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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