Documents for new Stage 2 works at Civic Hall suggest a new commercial kitchen was largely unscoped at the outset of the multi-million dollar refurbishment works.
The plans, which The Courier has seen within a detailed tender, include several significant alterations to the building just 18 months after a major restoration was completed.
The Civic Hall's reopening was marked with the Begonia Ball held in March 2019.
The new commercial kitchen is planned for the basement in the south-east of the site adjacent to the new GovHub site, which will be used for state government workers.
Works required to retrofit the kitchen include the demolition of staircases to accommodate the installation of a new dumbwaiter lift.
A new stair and landing will need to be installed.
Several walls will also require demolition.
Basins will need to be removed from the ground floor to allow the retrofitting of a new fire-rated kitchen exhaust, while much of the lower level of the roof will also require removal.
A Shakespeare sculpture, which is cast in bronze, will also need to be temporarily removed from its plinth to accommodate the construction of a grease-pit.
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The $2 million funding for the Stage 2 works, which was unanimously agreed to by council last June, also includes the installation of an electrical power upgrade, and a new lift at the rear of the stage.
A tender went out for the works in June this year, including detailed designs and a scope for the works.
As yet, no awarding of the contract has been announced.
The Courier asked whether the kitchen had been scoped into original plans, and if so why works had not been phased to coincide more clearly.
In a statement issued in response, the City of Ballarat said: "The scope of works delivered in stage one was shaped by the budget available at the time and which enabled Civic Hall to reopen in 2019.
"Other works outlined in the masterplan were included in stage two."
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A commercial kitchen was included in a masterplan considered by the previous council.
Drawings contained within that masterplan show the kitchen in a different area of the building.
A press release put out by the City of Ballarat in 2018 highlighted upgrades to the stage and interface with the Ballarat GovHub as future works.
There was no mention of a kitchen.
That press release has since been deleted after it was highlighted earlier this week.
The Courier understands catering at the newly refurbished venue has proved problematic, which led to the 2019 motion by council to install a kitchen.
In a statement earlier this month, the City of Ballarat confirmed the ongoing operating costs for the Civic Hall were expected to exceed half a million dollars each year.
That figure was the net cost to council, which would mean it takes into account any extra revenue that could be gained from booking events.
The total sum, which was put at between $500,000 and $550,000, includes costs for utilities bills, maintenance, marketing and wages.
The discussion over the future of Civic Hall after it closed in 2002 was one of the city's longest running, and frequently most heated, debates.
New council offices were approved, and demolition was signed off, then the decision was reversed - and the previous council approved its refurbishment in April 2016.
A burden on ratepayers was flagged - but the detail not provided - when the Ballarat Civic Hall precinct masterplan was adopted.
Then-interim CEO Frank Dixon said the decision to retain the Civic Hall would result in "significant additional costs".
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