THE City of Ballarat has ruled out immediate repairs to the lower Civic Hall after a group of tradespeople claimed the space could be re-opened for community use within months.
The Save Civic Hall group requested access to the lower hall at a council meeting in December and it assembled a team of tradespeople and engineers to inspect the building on March 27.
The group’s spokesman, Rod Broadbent, said on Tuesday they had been “disgusted” by ongoing access and vandalism to the building.
But despite the impact of vandalism – including smashed windows, broken furniture and graffiti – Mr Broadbent said the foundations were structurally sound and the hall could be re-opened within months if the permission to proceed with repairs was granted.
He said the council would need to contribute some funds to the project, but as many as 20 to 30 companies were willing to help by offering free services.
“Electricians have offered free labour, we’ve got offers from plumbers,” Mr Broadbent said. “Using the Civic Hall is the best protection against the threat of vandalism.”
The council voted to suspend a planning application to demolish the hall last month, after Premier Denis Napthine made an election promise to relocate the VicRoads headquarters to Ballarat, in a new building on the Civic Hall site.
Mr Broadbent said the hall should be repaired and re-opened in the meantime.
But the council’s chief executive officer, Anthony Schinck, said the council was not considering repairs.
“The last council resolution about Civic Hall maps out a clear way forward and we don’t want to get ahead of the process,” Mr Schinck said.
“But we are looking forward to doing some exciting work with the community ... to determine adaptive reuse opportunities for the hall.”