An almost two-year vacancy at the former Ballarat Secondary College Barkly Street campus could soon be filled after Ballarat Group Training recently kicked off negotiations to become a lead tenant.
The Barkly Street site has sat vacant since Ballarat Secondary College’s class of 2016 completed VCE.
Since then the school’s Mount Rowan and Woodman’s Hill campuses have been altered to offer years 11 and 12. The Courier understands the Education Department is in negotiations with BGT, however a deal is yet to be finalised.
BGT chairman Mark Schultz said “it would be a very good fit but we’ve still got a lot of exploring to do”.
“It’s an extraordinary building and we see it as a great fit for our training and (youth services) program,” Mr Schultz said. “Hopefully we can get to a mutually beneficial outcome.”
Ballarat Community Health had previously flagged its interest in taking the role as lead tenant, however backed away due to the cost of running the facility.
A host of community groups including the University of the Third Age and the Ballarat Men’s Shed have also expressed interest in occupying some of the Barkly Street space, however they have been denied access due to the lack of a lead tenant.
U3A president Jack Engwerda said the ongoing stalemate had been “very frustrating for quite a few groups” interest in the facility.
“It’s an ideal location for us because we have 1150 members currently and we’re desperate for facilities,” Mr Engwerda said.
Ballarat Men’s Shed program coordinator Duanne Seivers said a shift from their current Wendouree facility would allow their program to expand from two to up to five days a week.
Outgoing Buninyong MP Geoff Howard said while the project was “progressing slower than (he’d) like”, he was confident the building would be filled by the end of the year.
In a statement an Education Department spokesperson confirmed negotiations were underway, but said “considerable funds need to be invested in the buildings before they would be suitable for community use”.
“Any tenant would need to have the resources to operate the facility and also meet the necessary maintenance costs for the heritage buildings and protected vegetation,” the statement read.