Barkly Street campus empty almost a year after Ballarat Secondary College leave

Despite interest from numerous community groups, the former Ballarat Secondary College Barkly Street campus remains empty almost a year after the school vacated the premises.

The school which housed year 11 and 12 students was officially vacated at the end of the 2016 school year, with the renamed Woodmans Hill and Mount Rowan campuses now catering for years seven to 12. 

Buninyong MP Geoff Howard began taking submissions of interest for the site in September 2016 in the hope of filling the premises in 2017, but an anchor tenant has not yet been secured. 

While Ballarat Community Health had expressed interest in the site, chief executive Robyn Reeves said the organisation estimated it would cost $600,000 a year to run and would need government assistance.

“We're at a stage where unless the Department of Education is able to provide support we simply can't do it,” Ms Reeves said.  “If (Mr Howard) is able to convince the minister to do something about it we'd consider it because it would be a fantastic community asset, but the reality is it costs a lot of money to run.” 

While there are more than 20 community groups who are wishing to use the former school, the Education Department is demanding an anchor tenant takes control of the site. 

University of the Third Age member and former president Blake Gordon said the organisation despite significant interest, few community groups had the money to take the role of lead tenant.

“Nobody is using it and it's a great resource and at this point we've got over 1000 members so we can't muck around anymore,” Mr Gordon said.  “Unfortunately nobody seems to be able to put pressure on in the right places.”

Mr Howard said while he was frustrated the facility could not have been used in 2017, he remained hopeful the site would soon be put to good use.  “I’ll be talking to (BCH) about how we can pull the strings together but there's a number of other groups who are interested in having use for Barkly.”