Plans have been revealed for an outdoor dining deck at the Ballarat train station's Goods Shed, which developers say is crucial to attract hospitality businesses to the site.
The Goods Shed, which is currently being redeveloped, will include a conference centre and four food and beverage tenancies.
An application for a permit to build "outdoor dining pods" on the north-eastern corner, adjacent to the new Quest Hotel car park, has been submitted to Heritage Victoria.
Publicly-available documents show a two-level al fresco dining space, with decking near planned new glass doors as well as on ground level.
The heritage permit is required for the elevated platforms attached to the bluestone building, as well as modifying requirements for doors - these were initially planned to be kept closed.
The submission from developer Pellicano states the outdoor dining spaces are "integral to the success of the project", following industry consultation.
"The proposal is modest in scale and designed to avoid any impact on the historical fabric of the building," the submission states.
"All changes are reversible and the sympathetic design ensures the visual appeal and site lines to the building are retained.
"Furthermore, we believe the activation of The Goods Shed will help to celebrate its prominence as a Ballarat landmark, providing opportunity for tenants to engage with the community and tourists attracted to the refurbished building, which would otherwise have limited activation visible from Nolan Street to the north."
An "urban gin distillery", supported by a $750,000 state government grant, is also expected to open at the Goods Shed.
The project has had its challenges - the initial operator of the facility, Spotless, withdrew last year, and the Heritage Victoria submission notes Pellicano has spent more than $60,000 to secure "quality operators" for the building.
"(B)ased on industry feedback (the project) has since been adjusted to offer an alternate scheme of up to four smaller (food and beverage) tenancies serviced by an internal common area," the submission states.
"Pellicano is now in negotiation with a number of quality operators to secure a vibrant mix of food and beverage offerings to ultimately bring The Goods Shed to life."
Attached to the submission are two letters from food and beverage operator Atlantic Group and industry consultant Future Food.
The Atlantic Group letter notes an outdoor area, with appropriate access, would be required for them to maintain interest in the project.
A submission from heritage consultants Lovell Chen states "(w)ere the application refused and the outdoor dining area not constructed, the ability to lease the tenancy would be highly compromised".
"To date, the only potential tenants to have shown interest are $2 shops and similar warehouse type businesses. As a business type, this would not provide the precinct outcome desired by either Pellicano or the relevant government agencies who are in partnership on the project," the submission states.
"The introduction of high-quality tenants will support the activation of the goods shed and the surrounding station precinct as envisaged by the broader masterplan for the northern precinct. The provision of effective outdoor dining is essential to achieving this outcome."
Regional Development Victoria, which is in charge of the train station precinct redevelopment from the state government's perspective, referred enquiries to Pellicano.
Pellicano did not respond to requests for comment.
Submissions on the outdoor dining proposal close July 13.
In determining the permit application, Heritage Victoria's executive director must consider a range of matters including the impact of the proposal on the heritage significance of the place, submissions made in the public advertisement process, and to what extent the reasonable or economic use of the place would be affected should the permit application be refused.
IN THE NEWS
The Ballarat train station precinct project includes the multi-level commuter car park, which has 404 free spaces, and the Quest Hotel, as well as the Goods Shed redevelopment and a new public plaza with a large-scale sculpture.
Separate to the precinct project, a new local bus interchange is being built to the north-east of the train station, with traffic lights to be installed on Nolan Street.
This year's state budget noted that project has rocketed from a $5 million commitment in 2018 to a $22 million project.
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