Shopping revival planned for school building at orphanage site

Ballarat East could soon gain a new supermarket after a planning application was lodged with the City of Ballarat to develop on one of the city’s most contentious sites. 

Shopping plans: A planning application has been lodged with the City of Ballarat to construct an IGA supermarket at 200 Victoria Street, incorporating the old school site. Picture: Kate Healy

Shopping plans: A planning application has been lodged with the City of Ballarat to construct an IGA supermarket at 200 Victoria Street, incorporating the old school site. Picture: Kate Healy

A plan to develop a Ryan’s IGA at 200 Victoria Street was lodged with council at the end of April, which is the former Damascus College junior campus and Ballarat Orphanage site. 

Under the plan the former school building would be incorporated into a new shopping precinct, equipped with four separate retail spaces. 

The external facade of the school would remain, however a number of internal walls would be demolished. 

A new 109-space car park with access from both Victoria and Stawell streets will also be constructed if the project receives approval.

“I’d be wanting an outcome where we can achieve both a supermarket and suitable memorialisation.

Mark Harris - Central Ward councillor

The Stawell Street fence which has also been found to hold heritage value would remain under the proposed plans. 

Central Ward councillor Mark Harris said he would be willing to compromise on the heritage value of the structure in order to have the precinct cleaned up. 

The site is of particular significance to sexual abuse survivors abused at the orphanage.

The wall on Stawell Street which has heritage protection. Picture: Kate Healy

The wall on Stawell Street which has heritage protection. Picture: Kate Healy

“While its historical significance might be relatively small its social significance is so large,” Cr Harris said. 

“I’d be wanting an outcome where we can achieve both a supermarket and suitable memorialisation.”

The application is just the latest in a string of planned developments on a site which has become one of the most controversial in Ballarat. 

The site was purchased by developers Victoria Street Developments Pty Ltd in 2011, however a series of setbacks have held up construction on the block.

In 2015 council gave the go-ahead for residential development on the 5.2-hectare block, however heritage coverage of the buildings stalled the project. 

In December council approved a site development plan which allowed for 41 residential allotments, along with a commercial space on the corner of Victoria and Stawell streets.  

In October council also passed a law giving council the right to fine landowners who do not take reasonable steps to prevent buildings becoming dilapidated. 

Ryan’s IGA was contacted for comment.