Posted by: heritagewatch | September 26, 2013

26 September 2013 – Council votes to demolish Civic Hall

At a tumultuous Council meeting on 25 September 2013 (extending into 26 September 2013) ,  Ballarat City Council voted 6-3 to instruct its officers to prepare an application for a permit to demolish the Civic Hall, a significant heritage building in its Lydiard Street Heritage Precinct. This of course is at odds with its own Planning Policy, which requires under Section 21.5, and 22.5, that a simultaneous planning application for what will replace the demolished building must be provided, that is ‘in keeping’ with the heritage place.

The vote was taken after 1.00am in the morning, after more than five hours of questions and submissions by 50 members of the public, with all but four of the submissions objecting to the Council’s resolution.

It was an amazing meeting, with 150 people crowded into the public gallery, which had to be extended into extra space. Throughout the evening, the gallery erupted into applause for points made by the many expert speakers, including architects, planners, historians, musicians, events programmers and users.

The big message that came through was the need for a big flat-floor venue in the Ballarat CBD to cater for music, dance and exhibition events. The Civic Hall is that venue; it fulfills all the aspirations of the ‘giving Ballarat a heart’ concept,  articulated in the ‘Ballarat Imagine’ consultation of early 2013 to determine what citizens of Ballarat value about their city.


Most of us argued that all the Council had to do was vote to ‘paint, polish and program’ the existing Civic Hall. Instead Council has voted for the rocky path of demolition, and an unknown building program in the future. The environmental impact of such demolition is enormous, but totally ignored in this decision! Shame on a Council that claims to value environmental sustainability.

Congratulations to three fine women on the Council who opposed the motion – Councillors Samantha Macintosh, Belinda Coates and Vicki Coltman. Their clear-headed judgements stood in stark contrast to the other Councillors, who appear as slaves to the  Committee for Ballarat, whose executive officer John Kilgour was one of the only supporters of demolition.

How amazing, that after the December 2011 decision, we have to gear ourselves up to another fight.




Posted by: heritagewatch | December 15, 2011

Civic Hall Plan scrapped

At the Ballarat City Council meeting on 14 December 2011, Council voted 6-3 in favour of withdrawing the planning application for the redevelopment of the Civic Hall site, bowing to community outrage about different aspects of the proposal. It is a great victory for people power, and for all those who have written letters, joined protests and made their views known to Councillors. Ballarat Heritagewatch, which has been fighting for the refurbishment and adaptive re-use of the Civic Hall  for years, can feel justly proud of our efforts, and grateful to Cr. Samantha McIntosh for her leadership in Council.

Anne Beggs-Sunter,


Posted by: heritagewatch | September 20, 2011

Civic Hall – Retention or Demolition?

I am posting a potted history of the Civic Hall, and recent Council decisions. Please make your views felt by writing letters to the editor of the Ballarat Courier,  contacting Councillors, and contacting parliamentary representatives. Anne Beggs-Sunter, President.



Civic Hall History

Posted by: heritagewatch | December 12, 2010

Civic Hall progress

The Civic Hall sage continues into 2011. The Ballarat City Council voted in November 2010 to demolish the hall, but without owning the Crown Land on which it stands, nor having a planning application for any proposed new building.  How can a council that won an award this year for its ‘Preserving Our Heritage’ Strategy, be guilty of such blatant disregard for its own planning scheme?

I’d just like to post that the Ballarat Courier now publishes their news articles online at, including articles that may have relevance to Heritage ssuch as this one about the re-development of Sturt St around the Alfredton end, including lane-widening through the Avenue of Honour.

Why is this of interest? Because the online edition of the Courier allows any member of the community to post comments about the articles – and I’ve noticed that articles about controversial proposed property developments often generate a lot of interesting comments! This offers a good chance to get an impression of views on heritage issues in the wider Ballarat community.

— Patrick.

For those who haven’t seen the notice in the papers, the City of Ballarat is currently undergoing a mandatory periodic review of its Urban Planning scheme, being conducted by two independent consultants.

This seems to be a good opportunity for Ballarat HeritageWatch and its members to have their say on problems in the current scheme, particularly in regard to the MSS, local policies and heritage overlays. The consultants are currently inviting community submissions on the scheme until 29 August 2008.

The President  is working on a submission, with the thorny issue of how to deal with ‘demolition by neglect’ being raised. Attached to this post are some notes from the public information session. ballaratplanningreview_infosessions

Posted by: heritagewatch | May 9, 2008

City terminates heritage advisory staff

On 21 April 2008 the Director of Planning and Development, Darren Booth, announced that the positions of Heritage Adviser and Heritage and Urban Design Officer were being removed from the planning function. Instead, the City would rely on a ‘panel of heritage experts’ who would be contracted to review individual applications.

This decision was taken without reference to the Council’s Heritage Advisory Committee, and as a community representative on the Committee, I felt compelled to alert the general public to this situation, which I did in my newspaper column on Saturday 3 May. I believe that this is a disastrous development for Ballarat’s heritage, leaving the planning area without any professional advocate for heritage, and the ratepayers of Ballarat without an officer to consult on heritage matters. As noted recently, there are issues looming in regard to fitting solar panels in heritage overlay areas. This is just one area where in-house heritage expertise is needed in the planning area.

At our Committee meeting on Tuesday 6 May, we decided to write to the Director of Heritage Victoria and to the Minister for Local Government about this decision, seeking their intervention to restore the positions.

We also decided to petition the Ballarat City Council to restore the two positions.

Anne Beggs Sunter, President

Posted by: heritagewatch | April 25, 2008

Heritage Overlays and Solar Power Panels

At the recent Ballarat Renewable Energy And Zero Emissions (BREAZE) group, two representatives of the Ballarat City council (Marshall Sullivan and Lisa Gervasoni) gave a presentation about photovoltaic (PV) solar cells in heritage listed areas.

They outlined that a planning permit is required for all solar PV cell or solar hot water system additions (although it is not clear whether systems not visible at all from the road need a permit, council said they will clarify in future). They said that if the panels to be installed were not highly visible, there is a good chance applications would be successful, and be “fast tracked” through in  15 business days. However, normal applications would like take 8-12 weeks.

How would the heritage streetscape impact of street-facing solar cells be weighed against their positive contribution to averting a global climate crisis? The council representatives would not be drawn on specifics, but said factors such as using low-profile panels, and matching colours if possible, would improve the chances of an application. Several BREAZE members called for bypassing the permit process altogether since panels are not permanent additions to homes, but Mr Sullivan confirmed that under current State Govt policy, this would not be possible. Ballarat Council and the State Govt may re-evaluate these laws in future.

Comments welcome on this interesting issue.

Posted by: heritagewatch | April 19, 2008

Civic Hall Developments

Latest concept drawings from April 2008 for the Civic Hall

In April 2008 there have been a number of developments affecting the iconic Civic Hall Site. The City of Ballarat will sell the site to the Civic Place Group and its new partner Pan Urban, a Melbourne company. Designs are changing under Pan Urban’s influence. The next stage is for designs to be submitted for planning permission.

There are likely to be important issues in relation to height of new buildings, and of course sustainability issues. How green will the new building be? The recent BREAZE Forum in Ballarat ( April 12 2008 ) dramatically highlighted this issue.

Posted by: heritagewatch | April 13, 2008

Ballarat Heritage Watch’s new website.

We have moved Ballarat Heritage Watch’s website to become a wordpress-hosted web journal (or “blog” in the vernacular). The aim of the new site is to provide current information on important heritage issues in Ballarat, and provide an opportunity for our members, and those concerned in the wider community, to comment and give feedback.