GovHub and Civic Hall: planning approvals signed off, initial works begin in September

The major GovHub building has been given the seal of approval, with construction to start by the end of this year. 

Planning Minister Richard Wynne will award planning approval today for the $47.8 million development, which is the final piece of the puzzle for the Civic Hall site.

Preparation works will begin in September, with construction on the new building to commence by the end of 2018.

The final designs include a large ground floor space, incorporating similar brick and masonry materials used for the iconic Civic Hall. 

A three-level underground car park will be constructed under the northern section.

Regional Development Victoria said they have now identified 290 car parks to offset loss of parking on the site, as part of their $2 million contribution to City of Ballarat’s Car Parking Strategy. 

The lower hall will be reconstructed as a public space, potentially housing a cafe or bar.

Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford said that the project “will breathe new life into Ballarat’s CBD, diversify the range of jobs on offer and help provide career pathways for locals, while attracting more people to live in regional Victoria.” 

The Ballarat Planning Scheme was amended to make Mr Wynne the responsible authority for the land to be redeveloped.

More than 1000 employees will be in the GovHub site, with construction to be completed by 2020. 

Departments which will move jobs to GovHub include Education and Training, Justice and Regulation and VicRoads. 

The GovHub building will have five storeys of office space, with the design by Melbourne-based firm John Wardle Architects.

Main access to the building will be from Armstrong Street, to facilitate connections to the Ballarat Train Station. 

Around 600 government jobs from across the state are flagged to be relocated to the new space.

The state opposition committed last year to move all of VicRoads’ employees – around 560 staff – to the GovHub site if elected on November 24.

Concept designs were released for public feedback in December, with the development to be completed alongside the $8 million refurbishment of Civic Hall. A glass conservatory will link the two buildings.

The development on the Civic Hall site has been mired with controversy, after a decision to demolish the lower hall was walked back. Committee for Ballarat has previously told The Courier that retaining the lower hall was a bad use of space and didn’t provide maximum possible office space for the development. 

Builders S.J. Weir’s received the $4.6 million contract to restore the 1955 building earlier this year, with the building having sat dormant since 2002.