Councillors will once again consider the heritage worth of an old mining shed in Nerrina on Wednesday.
According to your point of view, the structure at 113 Lofven Street is either a dilapidated shed with little intrinsic value or an historic link to a gold mining industry that made Ballarat what it is today.
Council documents say the building was constructed as a pump shed in 1934 as part of Eureka Lead Gold Sluicing Company. The property was not under any heritage overlay when the block was bought in 2018.
However, in April last year council voted to place an interim heritage protection over the structure.
One heritage enthusiast argued last year that the shed could one day be part of a goldfields tour - and that all aspects of the city's gold mining history were worthy of protection, even from the more obscure, later gold mining era.
A heritage assessment of the site said it was "significant at a local level."
The Courier contacted one of the owners, who wished to remain private. However, he said they had done due diligence before purchasing the block - and had been looking forward to building a family home on the land.
We are sort of in limbo at the moment. We just feel completely walked over and forgotten aboutOwner
He said they had been told by council planners there was no heritage overlay and their plans to demolish the shed would not be an issue.
After someone told the council the building had "potential heritage significance" in January 2019, their project was put on hold.
"It really put a massive black shadow over what was really a shiny rainbow for us," he told The Courier. "My wife took it really, really hard."
They changed the plans for the house and went ahead with the build in a different position on the site as they faced not having anywhere to live if they didn't proceed. They remain uncertain about what will happen with the shed, which dominates a significant part of the block.
"We are sort of in limbo at the moment. We just feel completely walked over and forgotten about."
The structure, which straddles private property and crown land, was compared to a "hay shed" by councillor Ben Taylor during the initial debate last April. "It's literally just timber with tin on it," he said at the time.
However, then mayor Cr Samantha McIntosh used a casting vote to put the structure under an interim heritage control order, which is due to end in September.
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After the amendment went on exhibition, there was one unresolved submission. Council officers are recommending an independent planning panel consider the issues. The Courier understands that process is typical when there are unresolved submissions.
Both planners and landowners agreed the structure was "structurally unsound".
The City of Ballarat has advocated to take ownership of the shed. It is unclear how people would gain access as they would need permission to pass over the private land - which is unlikely to be granted. It is also unclear who would foot the shed's maintenance or restoration costs, which are likely to be considerable.
A City of Ballarat spokesperson said the expense of planning panels varied widely. However, they said a planning amendment with just one unresolved submission "would not incur significant costs."
Another town planning expert put the costs of an independent panel at around $5,000 per day. The costs would be paid by the planning authority - in this case, the City of Ballarat.
According to property websites, the land was purchased in June 2018 for $170,000.
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