Planning panel to announce decision on former Ballarat Children's Home next month

An independent planning panel is expected to make a recommendation next month on the future of the former Ballarat Children’s Home.

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

The panel heard evidence last week from developers, town planners and objectors in a series of hearings at the Ballarat Town Hall.

Former Ballarat Children’s Home resident Deborah Findlay, who is fighting for the protection of significant buildings on the site, said she believed the developers were finally started to listen.

“It’s been a long road and a long journey for all of us, I think,” she said.

“I believe the developers are finally starting to understand the importance of certain elements and certain buildings at that site.”

A legal appeal has also been adjourned by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

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

The developer is appealing for VCAT to overturn the decision.

Ms Findlay said a three-day hearing was adjourned this week as VCAT wanted to wait to see the outcome of the independent planning panel’s advice.

The demolition application for the Victoria Street site received more than 30 objections from the public earlier this year.

A former resident has also made a ‘blood claim’ to the land and highlighted the possibility of human remains on the site.

Meanwhile, adjoining residents have expressed concerns about building heights overshadowing residential properties, while VicRoads suggested there would be traffic implications.

At a council meeting last year, a spokesperson for the developer said his client acknowledged the site evoked strong feelings, but only some elements warranted retaining.