City of Ballarat councillors have unanimously approved a massive seven-storey apartment development in the heart of Ballarat.
Plans for the site include 59 apartments over seven storeys, three townhouses and a cafe. Six of the apartments are proposed to be used for specialist housing.
Council officers recommended councillors approve the infill development, citing net community benefit through increased inner-city population, retention of part of the former building, inclusion of specialist housing and addition of contemporary architecture to Ballarat.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the application, with south ward councillor Ben Taylor moving the recommendation, which was seconded by north ward councillor Peter Eddy.
The site at 6 Lyons Street North was formerly used as a music hall by Loreto College before being damaged by fire in 2011, requiring extensive repair works.
Planning approval had previously been given in 2012 for a five-storey apartment block on the site, but that project never started.
In 2017, plans were approved by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an 80-space car park on the site, but that project also failed to come to fruition.
Most of the building will be be demolished, while the remaining section of the music hall is will become home to the cafe.
The apartment building will be three storeys tall, about 11.3 metres, at the Lyons Street North frontage, set back 2.3 metres and tier away from the street to seven storeys at the eastern side of the site.
The three townhouses will be built behind the remaining music hall building at the northern edge of the site. While the applicant proposed the townhouses to be three storeys, the council officer recommendation reduced them to two storeys.
The application also sought a reduction in car parking requirements, with 55 spaces to be included in an underground car park.
Presenting to council, one of the applicants, Joseph van Dyk of Ballarat-based Hygge Property said the goal of the development was to create a building with net community benefit.
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While the development was approved unanimously, some councillors raised their concern with the need for council to put in place hard height restrictions rather than suggestions, as was the case with this particular development.
Cr Taylor said the Lyons Street North site was ideal for this type of development.
"This is an example of good design to benefit a great outcome for the city which is bringing people into the CBD, and that's what we want," he said.
"This is probably one of the best sites in Ballarat when looking at this type of development here to get the maximum benefit we can see from an economic point of view, from a lifestyle point of view and from a real change to the CBD in that we're actually looking to increase the opportunities that people have, to revitalise the CBD by bringing people into it and this is the first step to do that."
Cr Eddy said the development would offer an 'exciting, new style of inner city living' to Ballarat.
"We've spoken regularly of the need to demonstrate a commitment to the CBD, to the infill of the city and particularly, in relation to revitalising that area of our city which is slowly dying," he said.
"This is a unique site, it's a unique opportunity to do something really good. I think the project has been tastefully developed and takes into account many of the concerns about how it sits on the site footprint."
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