State government announces consortium for $44 million Ballarat Station Precinct

An artist's impression of the new Ballarat Station Precinct.

An artist's impression of the new Ballarat Station Precinct.

Construction on the Ballarat Railway Precinct will begin by mid to late 2017 after the state government unveiled the consortium which will take control of the $44 million project.  

The Pellicano Group will be in charge of building a 4.5 star, 77-room Quest hotel on the Lydiard Street side of the precinct. 

The company will also be in charge of the redevelopment of the goods shed, with the Spotless Group winning a 20-year venue management contract. 

Hotel to star in station precinct

A 77-room, 4.5 star hotel will be built on the Lydiard Street North side of the Ballarat Station Precinct as part of the state government’s $44 million development of the site. 

The Pellicano Group will be in charge of building the hotel which will be operated by the Quest chain, who already operate a block of apartments on Dawson Street North. 

The group will also be in charge of the refurbishment of the goods shed, which will be taken over by the Spotless Group under the Epicure brand. 

The state government will invest $25 million into the project, with the remaining $19 million to come from the private investors. 

Pellicano director Nando Pellicano said the unique location of the site presented an exciting business opportunity to the consortium. 

“We think it’s a very strategic site near the train station, and the combination of a Quest hotel and a convention centre run by Spotless was an attractive prospect,” Mr Pellicano said.  

“It made a lot of sense to invest in the project and we’ve got a long standing relationship with Quest, so that made us more comfortable.” 

Construction on the site is expected to begin by mid to late 2017, however the state government is yet to outline a proposed completion date for the project. 

While the possibility of a hotel in the precinct was flagged in the 2014 Ballarat Station Precinct Master Plan, no clear business case has been outlined for its need.  The master plan highlighted the space as a “development opportunity”, rather than a certain hotel. 

Mr Pellicano said he was confident a hotel would be successful on the site, despite the state government failing to outline a clear financial case.

“We are very confident (it will be successful).  We’re basing it on our assumptions done via modelling and Quest already have an existing model as they have apartments in Ballarat already.” 

A number of dining and retail outlets will adjoin the upgraded goods shed, as well as a public plaza which will be located between the shed and the new hotel.  The state government anticipates the project will create 140 jobs during construction and around 30 ongoing jobs.  

Wendouree MP Sharon Knight described the announcement as a significant milestone for the government.

“The  Labor Government is cleaning up the site and delivering new investment.”

Buses on back burner

Bus travelers will have to wait for an upgrade to Ballarat’s coach infrastructure after the state government announced it would not be including a new terminal in the $44 million development of the Ballarat Station Precinct. 

Package A of the 2014 Ballarat Station Precinct Master Plan put together by the state government and the City of Ballarat highlighted the need for the installation of a new bus bay, with plans showing an eight-bay bus interchange.

While architect plans for the precinct show a space adjacent to the train station which may be developed into a bus interchange, it will not be delivered through the government’s $25 million investment.

“The Government recognises the importance of planning for a bus interchange at this major transport hub and the concept plans released on 29 November show the developer has designed the internal roads with the width and structural capability to handle the buses in the future,” a government spokesperson said. 

“The current arrangements for public transport on Lydiard St will continue until the new interchange is built.” 

The project will also not offer any upgrades to the station’s taxi infrastructure, which was also earmarked in the 2014 Master Plan. 

Similar to the bus interchange, architect plans show the space for an upgraded taxi drop-off in the current short-term parking space on the right-hand side of the station, however no money has been allocated to the upgrade. 

In a statement, Regional Development Minster Jaala Pulford described the investment as “without a doubt...one of the biggest projects in the history of Ballarat”.

"We’re proud to deliver this redevelopment and revitalise the heart of the city while protecting its historical heritage and charm.”

Mrs Pulford failed to respond to questions surrounding the bus interchange by deadline. 

Massive overhaul for station parking

The Ballarat Station Precinct will be almost unrecognisable by the completion of the $44 million facelift which is scheduled to begin late next year. 

The current car park space will be completely vacated in order to provide space around the renovated goods shed, with cafes and restaurants likely to open up onto the block. 

The current unsealed area behind the goods shed will become a 150-capacity car park to service both the convention centre and the newly-installed hotel. 

Commuter parking will be shifted further away from the train station towards Nolan Street, with a multi-storey, 270-capacity car park to be constructed at an unspecified date. A new plaza will also be developed between the hotel and the goods shed.