Ballarat is staring down a long-term project to create its own ‘Central Park’, as council tries to engage residents on two major urban renewal projects.
Community consultation on the fate of the recently closed Latrobe Street saleyards, as well as Bakery Hill and Bridge Mall, precincts will begin on Thursday.
Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh said the saleyards was a long-term project without any decisions on residential developers, education providers or health care opportunities “absolutely mapped out”.
“This is a space that’s as big as Central Park in New York, if you combine the Lake, saleyards and Vic Park together,” Cr McIntosh said.
“None of this is going to happen overnight, I’d be blown away if we saw the saleyards site developed in the next couple of years.”
She confirmed they had been approached by a “significant number of developers” about the site, but wouldn’t give detail of what industries they represented for fear of “losing great opportunities”.
City of Ballarat’s manager of strategic planning Lisa Kendal said it was a “challenging process” to integrate the views of different stakeholders, the consultation was about letting residents “dream” about the spaces before any plan is created.
“The first stage is really opening up the conversation to everybody, regardless of any conversation that has been had previously. Our intent is really to understand the opportunity and the values of the site,” she said.
She said as there was “quite a bit of flooding” in the saleyards area, issues around traffic and significant environment remediation necessary that would have to be worked into any planning.
Ms Kendal said there was an opportunity for “full connection for off-road cycling” on the rail reserve from Alfredton to Victoria Park.
City of Ballarat does not own the saleyards, but are the committee of management for the slice of crown land.
An online survey can be found at mysay.ballarat.vic.gov.au, with workshops scheduled for November. .