Confusion reigns as Save Civic Hall group miss VCAT hearing

The front section of Civic Hall in Mair Street is being redeveloped, however the lower hall looks set for demolition in order to make way for GovHub
The front section of Civic Hall in Mair Street is being redeveloped, however the lower hall looks set for demolition in order to make way for GovHub

BALLARAT’S Save Civic Hall Group looks to have lost its last chance to have its case for the retention of the lower hall heard after it failed to show up for a hearing on Friday afternoon.

Just two weeks ago, the group announced it would be taking its position to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The matter was set down for a practice day hearing on Friday, which members of the group claim they were not informed about.

It is understood an email was sent out to connected parties on July 11 which the group says it did not receive.

However, the hearing still went ahead as scheduled in front of deputy president Helen Gibson who ruled that the “application was misconceived” and ordered that it be “summarily dismissed”.

This means that the application was dismissed with no ability for it to be reinstated.

The Save Civic Hall group has long campaigned for the retention of the lower hall.

The Save Civic Hall group has long campaigned for the retention of the lower hall.

The VCAT website says: “VCAT lists, such as the planning and environment list, holds practice day hearings once a week to resolve preliminary or procedural issues prior to a hearing, to make a procedural order or to set out a procedural timetable to facilitate the fair and efficient conduct of a proceeding.”

The website also states the date for the hearing must be within 30 days of the application.

When contacted by The Courier this afternoon, Save Civic Hall secretary Merle Hathaway said it was the first she had heard about the hearing.

“As far as I’m aware, we were not informed about this at all,” Ms Hathaway said.

“It’s incredibly disappointing, we are just a grassroots group, I don’t understand how this has happened.

“I’m shocked at this, I hope it’s just a mess up and not something else.”

The group has been vocal in its opposition to the demolition of the lower hall to make way for the State Government’s GovHub project which is expected to bring 1000 new jobs to Ballarat.

The remainder of the Mair Street hall is being restored by the City of Ballarat.

Ms Hathaway said the group would meet over the weekend to discuss if there was any further action it could take.