The state government has defended its community consultation for upgrades to the Ballarat Railway Precinct following criticisms the development has been imposed on Ballarat from afar.
The $25 million investment, which includes a four-star hotel and convention centre, received planning approval this week.
“To be very clear, this project reflects the wants and needs of the community,” a spokesperson for Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford said.
“The master plan underwent two rounds of community consultation and identified an integrated hotel and exhibition and convention centre as the most viable urban renewal and development option.”
The spokesperson did not comment on whether there was demonstrated need for further accommodation in Ballarat, or whether a business case for a hotel and convention centre had been made.
Ballarat City Council candidate Ron Egeberg said other sites, such as Sovereign Hill, were better suited to hotel development.
“State government is imposing a hotel at the railway precinct without considering the needs of the broader Ballarat community and importantly, understanding it's a transport hub.
“We already know that we don't have enough parking for people who need to park at the Ballarat railway station.”
Ballarat City Council Mayor Des Hudson said he had confidence in the government’s plan for the site.
“I doubt that this project would have progressed as far through if the government hadn't done their numbers and the economic feasibility based on a sound economic model.
“What we can’t measure is what we're missing out on without a facility being built.”
Cr Hudson said council continued to work through the parking issues that were across the board in the CBD.
“We need to look at the potential provision for further multi-deck carparks in the future and with a fully activated CBD we need to look at how we can maximise our parking options.”
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