A plan to replace the Norwich Plaza building in the Bridge Mall with a new development is in the pipeline.
In a public submission at last Wednesday's ordinary council meeting, developer Joseph van Dyk said he had been working with councillors and council officers on the project.
We are presently considering a redevelopment proposal for the Norwich Plaza and have been discussing this proposal with councillors and senior council officers for more than 18 monthsJoseph van Dyk, Hygge Property
It could see a new development take the place of one of the city's least loved buildings, with Mr van Dyk hoping a planning permit application could be lodged by the end of the year.
While Mr van Dyk said he was unable to share further details of the development publicly at this stage, he confirmed to The Courier the project would bring new people to live in the area if approved.
He said the project included a mix of residential, retail and commercial elements.
Mr van Dyk, who is the co-owner of Hygge Property and played a key role in kickstarting the Nightingale project in Ballarat, made the public representation to urge councillors to start work rejuvenating the Bakery Hill precinct.
"We are presently considering a redevelopment proposal for the Norwich Plaza and have been discussing this proposal with councillors and senior council officers for more than 18 months," he said.
"It is our firm view that council must act as a catalyst for the renewal of Ballarat's historic heart in order to attract and provide confidence to private investment in this precinct."
He called for a financial commitment to rejuvenating the Bridge Mall precinct as "a priority".
"We urge councillors to provide private investment the confidence they require to progress decisions such as the Norwich Plaza."
After a finely balanced discussion, councillors voted by a majority of four to three to approve a council officer plan to open the mall to eastbound traffic and beautify the surrounding precinct, including with more green spaces.
The Norwich Plaza dominates the approach to the Bridge Mall at the bottom of Sturt Street, and is known for its stopped clock and dilapidated exterior.
In 2016, it was voted Ballarat's ugliest building, with more than 30 per cent of the 1,861 votes cast in an online poll.
As with many of the surrounding buildings, there is a high vacancy rate within the plaza.
Mr van Dyk said he hoped the project would bring more life back to the precinct if it is approved. "It is looking to bring people back to the Bakery Hill precinct," he said.
"Integral to the brief is the activation of all four frontages [surrounding Norwich Plaza] - Curtis Street, Grenville Street, Bridge Mall and the Coliseum walk."
He said he was working with conjunction with other partners including the owners and hoped he would be in a position to submit plans for approval this year.
"We are aiming to lodge a planning permit in the next nine months," he said. "But it is heavily dependent on the council's strategic planning program."
In his submission last week, Mr van Dyk referenced the review of a design and development overlay - known as DD01 - which is currently in place over the precinct.
The overlay sets guidelines on the future use and development of the Bridge Mall, including restrictions on height and access recommendations for any new buildings in the precinct.
A draft Urban Design Framework, which sets out a vision of the CBD, is currently out for consultation.
There have been signs that change could be on the way for Norwich Plaza in recent years. The building was listed for sale in 2018 but no purchase was ever announced.
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