A contentious new government building on Grenville Street North has received the go-ahead from City of Ballarat councillors after weeks of mediation.
The five-storey development was approved at a ordinary council meeting on Wednesday night, with only councillors Grant Tillett and Daniel Moloney voting against the motion.
Council deferred a decision on the proposal on July 4, so mediation with developer iPlanning Services Pty Ltd could be undertaken over issues of heritage impacts and significant parking dispensation.
As part of the build, developers received a parking dispensation of 58 car spaces, with 20 on-site parks to cater for 110 proposed Department of Justice employees.
Objectors and they city’s heritage advisors said the height for the building would impede views of the broader goldfields from Camp Street, going against the recommendations of UNESCOs Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) approach, to which Ballarat is a signatory.
SEE HOW THE PLANS FOR GRENVILLE STREET NORTH HAVE CHANGED
iPlanning Services Pty Ltd director James Iles said they had “gone to great lengths to address heritage aspects”, and would be willing to reduce the height by another 0.5 metres as required by council officers.
Council officers noted there would be a loss of views from the Trades Hall ground and first floors, but the impacts would be considered “quite modest and within reasonable parameters”.
The Ballarat Regional Trades and Labour Council secretary Brett Edgington said in relation to HUL and parking dispensations, there needed to be “certainty about the rules so the people in the city of Ballarat can have faith about the future of planning in this city”.
The building’s frontage was overhauled between council meetings. In a report, a heritage advisor said the original design’s “contemporary sculptural expression on the facade has unfortunately been abandoned with this redesign”, and what was left was a “more literal response” to Ballarat’s heritage architecture.
Councillor Mark Harris stated the building was an “adequate outcome”, but said it was important not to send developers away for a rethink at “the drop of the hat” due to aesthetic concerns.
The block at 11 Grenville Street North has sat vacant since February 2014, following a structure fire which destroyed Plaster Fun House and the Absolute Yoga studio.